By Yereth Rosen
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - The state of Alaska will sue the U.S. government to stop the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, arguing the designation will slow development in the state, Gov. Sarah Palin said on Wednesday.
Palin said the state will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington challenging U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's decision to grant Endangered Species Act protections to the polar bear.
The Republican governor has argued that the ice-dependent polar bear, the first mammal granted Endangered Species Act listing because of global warming, does not need additional protections.
We believe that the listing was unwarranted and that it's unprecedented to list a currently healthy population based on uncertain climate models," said Alaska Assistant Attorney General Steven Daugherty.
Even though Kempthorne enacted a rule aimed at precluding any new restrictions on oil and gas operations as a result of the listing, the Palin administration believes a wide variety of other development activities in Alaska would be hampered if the listing goes through, Daugherty said.
Any development or activity requiring federal permits or using federal funds would have to engage in a "consultation" process to ensure that polar bears are not harmed, he said.
That consultation, mandated by the Endangered Species Act, "is a long and time-consuming process," he said. "It's just, basically, a big time-and-money-waster."
The date for filing the lawsuit is unknown, Daugherty said. The state Department of Law on Wednesday was drafting its 60-day notice of intent to sue, he said. (Editing by Vicki Allen)