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Governor Parnell Vows to Fight Polar Bear Critical Habitat Designation

November 24, 2010, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sean Parnell expressed disappointment today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated more than 187,000 square miles in Alaska as critical habitat for polar bears, a decision subjecting the vast area to consultations regarding potential human activities within its boundaries.

"Such consultations are increasingly being misused to challenge responsible resource development," Governor Parnell said. "This additional layer of regulatory burden will not only slow job creation and economic growth here and for our nation, but will also slow oil and gas exploration efforts.

"While the state is pleased that the final designation exempted existing U.S. Air Force installations, the communities of Barrow and Kaktovik, and manmade structures from critical habitat, we are disappointed that the State of Alaska was not consulted on its numerous other recommendations and comments submitted to the service. We are especially concerned regarding the limited consideration given to the additional economic information the state provided." 

The State of Alaska maintains the designation was not supported by sound science or good economic analysis. The state is considering its options, including a possible legal challenge to the designation.

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