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Whale Endangered, Palin Pouts:

The NYT reports that Cook Inlet Beluga Whales were listed as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act yesterday.

The relatively small, whitish whales, sometimes visible from downtown Anchorage, declined by almost 50 percent in the late 1990s, and federal scientists say they have not rebounded despite a series of protections, including a halt to subsistence hunting by Alaska Natives. About 375 whales have been counted in Cook Inlet each of the last two years, according to scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

This listing is likely to get some attention because, as the NYT notes, it was opposed by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

As with the polar bear, Ms. Palin's administration opposed the beluga listing in part because of its potential to restrict coastal and offshore oil and gas development. The beluga listing could also affect other projects, including the expansion of the Port of Anchorage and a proposed bridge over Knik Arm that would connect Anchorage to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and Ms. Palin's hometown, Wasilla.

"I am especially concerned," the governor said in a written statement in August 2007, when her administration submitted documents to fight the listing, "that an unnecessary federal listing and designation of critical habitat would do serious long-term damage to the vibrant economy of the Cook Inlet area."

On Friday, Ms. Palin said the state had had "serious concerns about the low population of belugas in Cook Inlet for many years," but she called the listing "premature." Her administration challenged the federal government's data, as it did with the polar bear decision.

The official NOAA Fisheries announcement of the listing is here.

Skorri (mail):
Anyone else have Raffi stuck in their head, now...?
10.18.2008 4:24pm
Shertaugh:
Why do these radical environmentalists hate America?
10.18.2008 4:24pm
DangerMouse:
Palin pouts? Nice sexist imagery there. Women don't "oppose", they only "pout"?
10.18.2008 4:33pm
A.S.:
Pouts

Pouts? That's certainly not a fair characterization of her objection to the listing, which objection is shared by the Democrat running for Senate.
10.18.2008 4:36pm
Obvious (mail):
Palin: "I am especially concerned that an unnecessary federal listing and designation of critical habitat would do serious long-term damage to the vibrant economy of the Cook Inlet area."

What a horrible mixup in priorities for a sitting governor of a state...
10.18.2008 4:39pm
A.S.:
Nice sexist imagery there.

Let's face it, it's perfectly acceptable to be a sexist against Palin, because she's a know-nothing conservative from Wasilla, Alaska. People with fancy law degrees are entitled to feel superior and use any type of sexism they wish. We've seen this kind of sexist remark over and over here at the Volokh Conspiracy, although not heretofore from Prof Adler.
10.18.2008 4:40pm
DangerMouse:
We've seen this kind of sexist remark over and over here at the Volokh Conspiracy, although not heretofore from Prof Adler.

I'm not surprised or disappointed. Nothing surprises me about the opposition anymore.
10.18.2008 4:48pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I suspect it's more alliteration than sexism.

In any case, I have a lot of family in Alaska, and as with the wolf-control efforts, it's worth remembering something: the Alaskan Native Peoples are trying desperately to preserve something like their ancestral ways, as well as needing to continue their subsistence hunting and fishing because there's not much else to do: it's continue to hunt and fish, or hope the Federal Government will fly in MREs.

As my Inuit cousin Erin — who is otherwise about as liberal as they come — puts it, "Are they nuts? The people in the villages will starve!"
10.18.2008 4:49pm
JoshD:
Ignoring the over-simplistic characterization of this topic that the title displays, I surprised by how shallow this post is given the subject matter of this blog.

"Protection of habitat" under the ESA has always been a tool used by extreme environmentalists to block common sense development even absent compelling evidence that such development would cause serious harm to endangered species.

Also, all the media coverage I have seen has specifically referred to the endangered species as the Cook Inlet Beluga Whales. To make a reasonable judgment on this topic it would be helpful to know how this specific sub-population relates to the greater Beluga Whale population. What makes the Cook Inlet population unique and what are some possible reasons the population is not growing even with past protections.

It is possible that after assessing all this information listing the whales is the correct action, but the environmental lobby and even Bush's EPA don't have a great track record on this.
10.18.2008 5:00pm
jaed (mail):
"Pouts"?

Jesus Christ.
10.18.2008 5:20pm
Angus:

Jesus Christ.
Why are you bringing Obama into this? *ducks*
10.18.2008 5:23pm
Bob Leibowitz (mail) (www):
Note that "pouts" is Jonathan's term. It is not used in the original story.

Sad.
10.18.2008 5:40pm
Cornellian (mail):
I think small, white, Beluga whales are darn cute, but somehow I don't see this issue setting the blogosphere on fire.
10.18.2008 5:42pm
John (mail):
It is interesting that Adler, while poking fun at Palin, never takes the time to investigate whether her position was or was not a sensible one. That's not good lawyering, though it may be good elitism.
10.18.2008 5:49pm
quixoticneophyte:
"Pouts"?!?

Yeah... that is sexist. Why not just "opposes"?
10.18.2008 5:57pm
Nathan_M (mail):
I'm no fan of Palin, especially on an issue like this, but I agree that "Palin Pouts" is inappropriate and sexist.
10.18.2008 5:57pm
Volokh Conspiracy Regular (mail):
Jonathan Adler is a fucking moron. Nearly every post of his is some version of a slightly watered-down Daily Kos item. What a disgusting shit...
10.18.2008 6:06pm
Dan M.:
How is "pouts" sexist? I don't think of pouting as a feminine thing; I think of it as a childish thing. I think men are accused of pouting quite regularly.

That's not to say that I think the characterization is fair, but I don't want to be accusing everyone on the other side of using "sexist code language" while the Obama camp accuses Republicans of being racists.

I mean, come on, be a little more cautious about throwing around sexism charges.
10.18.2008 6:12pm
Paul McKaskle (mail):
The proposed bridge over Knik Arm will connect Anchorage to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley but it doesn't significantly shorten the already existing route between Anchorage and Wasilla. There is already a pretty direct connection between Anchorage and Wasilla on the east side of Knik Arm.
10.18.2008 6:16pm
lnewcomer (mail):
I see I'm not the only one who thought the use of the word "pouts" to be odd. I don't think there's anything quoted in the article that support that word other than bias by Prof. Adler. Disappointing.
10.18.2008 6:16pm
MartyA:
Yes, but! The key is that while these adorable little white whales may or may not be endangered, how do they taste? Do beluga steaks go well on a grill. And, for the benefit of all the elitists who automatically oppose ANYTHING Palin advocates, what French (or other European) wine does one serve with a beluga steak?
10.18.2008 6:24pm
Bill Dyer (mail) (www):
I don't think "pouts" is necessarily sexist. It's inaccurate and too cute, however. Gov. Palin, acting within the unquestionable scope of her proper authority, is taking a serious legal position that reflects the views and interests of a large majority of her constituents on an issue that will disproportionately affect them. I happen to think she's right. And I'm willing to give Prof. Adler the benefit of the doubt that he didn't intend either to make a sexist remark nor to otherwise belittle or insult the Governor of Alaska in this post.
10.18.2008 6:49pm
Greg Q (mail) (www):
"Palin pouts"

pout:

1. To exhibit displeasure or disappointment; sulk.
2. To protrude the lips in an expression of displeasure or sulkiness.

1. To push out or protrude (the lips).
2. To utter or express with a pout.
n.
1. A protrusion of the lips, especially as an expression of sullen discontent.

Is there any evidence of her actually doing any of this, or is Jim just a sexist pig who looks down on women politicians / left wing jerk who attacks anyone who disagrees with his Messiah / environmental fruitcake who doesn't believe that anyone could ever legitimately object to any "environmental ruling"?
10.18.2008 6:57pm
js (mail):
i love how now a contributing editor to the national review is now a sexist just because he took a very gentle jab at palin. it's a blog, adler writes commentary and he made a humorous alliteration.

or maybe i'm just feeding the trolls.
10.18.2008 6:59pm
byomtov (mail):
On Friday, Ms. Palin said the state had had "serious concerns about the low population of belugas in Cook Inlet for many years," but she called the listing "premature."

What the state has done about these "concerns?"
10.18.2008 7:07pm
Divorced (mail):
Can you see the Beluga Whales from Russia, or is that just the caviar?
10.18.2008 7:23pm
Modus Ponens:
whales.

you can see the japanese eat them from alaska.
10.18.2008 7:38pm
theobromophile (www):
what French (or other European) wine does one serve with a beluga steak?

Cotes de Rhone.
10.18.2008 7:50pm
Guesty McGuesterson (mail):
My goodness, have you people never heard of alliteration? Google "Putin pouts" and you'll get some hits as well. I try hard not to assume the worst of Palin's defenders, but this is just painful.

Watching the death gasps of the McCain campaign and its supporters is painful. At this point, you're merely rearranging the plumbing on the Titanic.
10.18.2008 8:02pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
Commenters to this post are missing the entire point. The item was posted as satire. Proof of this is that Adler quotes the NYT. Since the New York Times is well known to be a branch of The Ones campaign organization, no one with sense pays attention to it's mutterings or nutterings anymore. And btw, there are no such things as "Cook Inlet Beluga Whales". That's a code name for "Alaskan Community Organizers". They all work for ACORN. Pro Rata, of course.

Great job, Jonathan.
10.18.2008 8:02pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

I think small, white, Beluga whales are darn cute, but somehow I don't see this issue setting the blogosphere on fire.


And, I'm led to understand, quite tasty.
10.18.2008 8:10pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

What the state has done about these "concerns?"


Quite lot, actually. As I mentioned, small whales are a major issue for the Eskimos. And Eskimos are an issue if you want to get elected in Alaska.

Not to mention Palin being married to a Yup'ik.
10.18.2008 8:12pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
"Obvious" is sure that Palin's priorities are badly mixed up, wanting to protect economic and energy rights over species habitat rights of uncertain effectiveness. We still have a ways to go here in teaching people to think, I guess. At the very least, can you lose the condescension?

BTW, I thought Adler's "pouts" was ironic.
10.18.2008 8:27pm
Splunge:
The relatively small, whitish whales, sometimes visible from downtown Anchorage, declined by almost 50 percent in the late 1990s, and federal scientists say they have not rebounded despite a series of protections, including a halt to subsistence hunting by Alaska Natives.

Then the protections didn't work, did they? Whatever it is the belugas need, the empirical evidence now proves that it's not being listed as endangered under the ESA.

So Governor Palin was right to oppose the listing. She averred it was costly but would not benefit the whales, and the evidence now says that she was correct.

Of course, like the well-trained ivory-tower theorists they are, contemptuous of the mere evidence of one's own eyes, that won't stop journalists and politicians from claiming there's nothing wrong with the theory here, despite the evidence. It just hasn't been implemented right, you see.

It's true the hole is getting deeper, but that just means we need to dig even faster.
10.18.2008 9:31pm
MarkField (mail):

Jonathan Adler is a fucking moron. Nearly every post of his is some version of a slightly watered-down Daily Kos item. What a disgusting shit...


More evidence for Prof. Kerr.
10.18.2008 9:56pm
byomtov (mail):
Quite lot, actually.

That's not an answer.
10.18.2008 10:25pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
1) Might be an argument for threatened rather than endangered status. In threatened, the agency has more discretion (need only forbid actions that might actually harm the species, whereas with endangered you have a series of statutory restricts that apply where the species needs them or not).

2) Don't know if this particular group of Belugas is a subspecies or not. If not, it'd have to qualify as a separate population, essentially separated from other populations ("species" under ESA includes species, subspecies, and separate populations).

3) When designating critical habitat under ESA, economic impacts are a valid issue. (They are not when making the decision to list).

4) You don't drink wine with Beluga. You drink engine degreaser. The serious gourmets keep a spray can of brake cleaner at the table, and cleanse their palate with a shot between bites.

DTH
Former GS-14
Dept of Interior Office of Solicitor
Fish and Wildlife Branch
10.18.2008 11:09pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Jonathan Adler is a fucking moron lawyer. Nearly every post of his is some version of a slightly watered-down Daily Kos item. What a disgusting shit lawyer...

It works better and is more polite if you use synonyms.
10.18.2008 11:39pm
one of many:

4) You don't drink wine with Beluga. You drink engine degreaser. The serious gourmets keep a spray can of brake cleaner at the table, and cleanse their palate with a shot between bites.

Really? I've always use fine Kentucky gulping whiskey myself, but I wouldn't consider myself a gourmet. If you're just eating the blubber instead of the steak, it's vodka all the way, I favour MiG Pilot vodka myself (distilled in Vermont, world renowned for it's lack of decent distilleries) which also doubles as a engine degreaser so I'm not certain we are talking about different things. If you must go for a European wine I recommend a retsina or a tokay, nothing which would run more than 4E/liter, although the US these days has a variety of fine wines which are just as good as the European ones such as Thunderbird or Richard's Wild Irish Rose, and one should not overlook the fine Australian table wines ("this is not a wine for drinking, this is a wine for lying down and avoiding").
10.19.2008 12:35am
David Warner:
AVI,

"BTW, I thought Adler's "pouts" was ironic."

As was Obvious' post.
10.19.2008 1:12am
Obvious (mail):
David Warner,

Thanks. I'm glad to find your ear is more attuned to irony than AVI's...
10.19.2008 5:27am
Arkady:

Jonathan Adler is a fucking moron. Nearly every post of his is some version of a slightly watered-down Daily Kos item.


Holy Shit! -- There's gonna be an explosion over at National Review Online when they find out about this. It'll make the Christopher Buckley purge look like a slap fight at the dancing academy.
10.19.2008 8:24am
TCO:
I heard Adler was a pouty little bitch. All the kids used to pick on him at recess. Still should. Little pouter.
10.19.2008 9:16am
Franklin Drackman:
We should hunt those sumbitch whales, melt the blubber down and use it for biogas, or breed-em, I dont know. They're just big Fish, not like they're somethin valubale like Blood Hounds.
10.19.2008 9:40am
DiverDan (mail):
From the NOAA Announcement:


NOAA scientists estimated the Cook Inlet beluga population
at 375 for both 2007 and 2008. Estimates have varied from a high of 653 belugas in 1994 to a
low of 278 belugas in 2005.


Thus, according to NOAA's own estimates, the Cook Inlet population of Belugas (one of 5 populations of the same species in American Waters; there are several other populations in waters outside of U.S. jurisdiction, including Canadian, Greenland, Norway, and Eastern Russia in the Bering Straight) increased from 278 in 2005 to 375 for both 2007 and 2008 -- this apears to be a rebound of almost 35% in two years. So just why are they making the "endangered" listing now? Is it because if they wait and the population rebounds, they know the chance will be lost, while they know that it is almost impossible to delist a species once it makes the list?
10.19.2008 10:35am
one of many:
No Diver, they waited until now because of deadlines imposed by the ESA for making a determination. 1 year after being petitioned the agency must make a proposal and 18 months after proposing that a species be listed the agency must make a determination of whether or not to go through with that listing.
10.19.2008 10:57am
Ben Franklin (mail):
Let's face it, every beluga whale and every polar bear could drop dead tomorrow and no one would know it. So what? I have no more interest in seeing that these things continue to exist than I have in seeing that dinosaurs again walk the earth.

That being said, even were I interested in their preservation, it is impossible to imagine a plausible scenario where a pipeline would lead to the death of a bunch of polar bears. Yet this will be used as an excuse for banning everything from oil drilling to the internal combustion engine. Politicians and regulators are simply not rational or responsible enough to be given this sort of power.
10.19.2008 11:06am
JosephSlater (mail):
Powell endorses Obama. I'm guessing Palin had something to do with that.
10.19.2008 11:22am
Floridan:
Colorado Charlie: "Not to mention Palin being married to a Yup'ik."

At least 1/8th of one.

And yet it doesn't seem to have done the Yup'ik much good.
10.19.2008 1:28pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
And here I thought the VC commentariat was opposed to political correctness.

Why isn't it even more sexist for Palin supporters to refer to her as "hot"?
10.19.2008 1:59pm
David Warner:
Obvious,

"Thanks. I'm glad to find your ear is more attuned to irony than AVI's..."

His is attuned to several other useful matters. Irony is famously difficult to convey or detect in this media.
10.19.2008 3:26pm
douglas (mail):

Why isn't it even more sexist for Palin supporters to refer to her as "hot"?


Because males can be hot too, just ask my wife.
10.19.2008 3:37pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
David Warner and especially, Obvious. My apologies. I should have seen. I am usually not irony challenged, but comment threads do strain my detection abilities.
10.19.2008 8:37pm
Michael B (mail):
I don't get the "pouting" aspect of this. Palin expressed concern on both sides of the issue, coming down on one side due to the perfectly responsible reasons she voiced. What is wrong with noting the problems, the different sides involved in such issues, expressing those concerns, and then coming down on one particular side?

Asking such a question assumes coherence, cogency and an appreciation of responsible concerns on all sides of the issue are sought - but beyond that I do not see how "pouting" is involved in Palin's articulation in the least, not even remotely so.
10.20.2008 12:48am
Kenvee:
How many times is a male politician referred to as "pouting" when he opposes something? If alliteration was all Jonathan was looking for, then he could have tried "Palin Protests". "Pout" is demeaning and I believe it was used in a sexist manner here. Frankly, I expected better.
10.20.2008 11:02am
Randy R. (mail):
"As my Inuit cousin Erin — who is otherwise about as liberal as they come — puts it, "Are they nuts? The people in the villages will starve!"

I guess they won't starve once the whales are extinct?

Splunge: "Then the protections didn't work, did they? Whatever it is the belugas need, the empirical evidence now proves that it's not being listed as endangered under the ESA. "

Um, I think the whole point of putting any creature on the endangered list is to protect it from extinction. If the protections haven't worked, then you have two option: Provide more protection to save the species, or give up and just let it go extinct. And in case you haven't noticed, eliminating protections isn't going to make their numbers come back either.

By letting the species go extinct, I don't see how that benefits the Inuit at all.
10.20.2008 2:02pm
Jim M (mail):
The NYT published a misleading statement, as anyone who looks at a map could see. There is already a highway from Wasilla to Anchorage on the south side of the Knik Arm. If a road were constructed from the north side of the possible bridge to Wasilla, the trip that way would be longer.
10.20.2008 2:33pm