Use the best science for state policy

Posted: Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin could save the state a lot of embarrassment and money at the same time by vetoing the $2 million for a conference on "contrarian" polar bear and global climate change research.

She should repudiate the view that science is for sale, expressed by Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez: "You know as well as I do that scientists are like lawyers." (From "State lawmakers seek new polar bear study" in the Juneau Empire on May 7).

This view is an embarrassment to Alaskans.

As proposed, the polar bear conference will undercut the state's credibility. How can we argue we're developing our natural resources responsibly if we're seen as using science only when it supports our economic and policy interests?

If we want to demonstrate that we're protecting fish and wildlife in controversial projects such as offshore oil and gas development or the Pebble Mine, we need to be able to show that state government is using the best science, not just the science it likes.

If the funds aren't vetoed, the conference should focus on the world's best polar bear research, and be organized by a university to ensure scientific credibility.

Steve Behnke


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