Alaska greets polar bear designation with anger, angst

Alaska industry and political leaders reacted with disappointment, even vehemence, to the decision Wednesday to protect the polar bear as "threatened," despite assurances from the Bush administration that the listing would mean no new regulation in Alaska.

Industry officials worried that the listing decision would give environmentalists a new tool for opposing development in the Arctic, especially new offshore oil exploration and development. Politicians attacked the science behind the decision as speculative.

"Reinterpreting the Endangered Species Act in this way is an unequivocal victory for extreme environmentalists who want to block all development in our state," said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

National conservative groups are already promising to sue over the decision, predicting that Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's effort to rule out regulation of greenhouse gas emissions would be overturned in court. One group, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the barriers erected by Kempthorne "have all the strength of tissue paper."

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