[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/TECH/09/23/arctic.ice/art.polar.bear.cnn.jpg caption="Ken Salazar announced his decision Friday to retain a Bush-era regulation limiting the protection of polar bears under the Endangered Species Act."]WASHINGTON (CNN) – Alaska officials Sarah Palin and Mark Begich are speaking out Friday about Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to retain a Bush-era regulation limiting the protection of polar bears under the Endangered Species Act.
"This is a clear victory for Alaska," Gov. Palin said in a statement released Friday. "We all want to preserve and protect the polar bear using the best possible tools, but there is absolutely no need to change the 4(d) rule to accomplish this purpose. I want to thank Secretary Salazar for his careful review of the science and the administrative record that led to this decision."
Begich agreed with the Alaska governor, lauding the Interior Secretary's decision to keep the existing rule.
"I commend Secretary Salazar for protecting the polar bear while also recognizing it is not appropriate to use a federal law like the ESA to try to regulate greenhouse gas emissions," Begich said Friday. "I support Secretary Salazar's belief that we need a comprehensive energy and climate strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the ESA should not be used as a back-door regulatory tool to achieve this goal."
But Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, slammed the department's decision to monitor the situation saying it's not enough to protect the polar bear.
The remarks follow Salazar's announcement that he will retain the special rule promulgated under the Bush administration in December, but left the door open to implement future measures that would protect the polar bear and its habitat.