Beluga whales 1, Sarah Palin 0

From the Center for Biological Diversity – my new favorite NGO:

There’s huge news today out of Alaska: A federal judge just rejected the state’s attempts to deny Endangered Species Act protection for Cook Inlet beluga whales.

Today’s ruling is a major victory in our decade-long battle to protect the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, one of Alaska’s most imperiled species whose population plummeted from 1,300 in the 1970s to only just 300 to 400 today.

This win is the latest chapter in a long-term fight for the survival of belugas — and it’s far from over.

The Center for Biological Diversity first petitioned to protect Cook Inlet beluga whales under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. The whale population faced a long list of powerful threats, including oil and gas development and pollution from Anchorage, the fastest-growing watershed in Alaska.

We finally won Endangered Species Act protections for Cook Inlet belugas in 2008, and in early 2011, our long-running efforts secured protection for nearly 2 million acres of their habitat.

But shortly after belugas were listed in 2008, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced politically motivated plans to sue over the listing, which sparked the lawsuit under Gov. Sean Parnell — the lawsuit that we defeated today.

The Center and allies fought back Palin’s suit in court and, today, the judge rejected the state’s arguments, saying the Fisheries Service’s decision to protect the belugas was based on the best available science.

I’m proud to say that the dedication and support of our members and staff brought about this critical win for the whales, and I want to share today’s victory with you.

For now, thanks to your efforts, Cook Inlet beluga whales will continue to get the protections they desperately need and that the Center has fought so long and so hard to secure.

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