Politics

Liberal Activists Use Cute Bears to Rail Against GOP Deregulation

Leftists warn elimination of 2016 Obama rule will mean slaughter of baby bears by airborne hunters

A Republican-led Congress and White House are rolling back overreaching environmental regulations and reaffirming states’ rights to regulate hunting and fishing.

But to the Left and environmental activists, the trend means poisoned air, unclean power, and hibernating bears being mowed down from airborne hunters above.

“The [Obama] rule usurped Alaska’s legal authority to manage fish and wildlife on federal lands.”

A petition at ForceChange.com urges people to sign to prevent the helicopter-or-airplane hunting of hibernating bears in Alaska.

“Don’t allow hunters to shoot hibernating bears from airplanes,” the petition reads. “Innocent animals and their cubs should not have to fear being shot and killed in their own homes by flying human intruders.”

The charge is odd, and it’s not clear where the activists derive their belief that hunters will be able to target sleeping bears in dens, from the sky — which would be quite a shot.

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U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told the Alaska Daily Dispatch she expected such claims after a bill passed Congress on March 21 returning some power to regulate predator control to state governments.

“Opponents will allege that the repeal of this rule will legalize brutal predator control practices,” Murkowski told the Dispatch News. “The Senate should know that it is already illegal for hunters to use certain practices — gas against wolves, traps to bears. You can’t do this in national wildlife refuges in Alaska.”

It didn’t stop activists from trying to overwhelm the White House with criticism, to sway President Donald Trump. Even Cher weighed in.

“U.S. House sanctions killing hibernating bears, wolf pups in their dens on federal refuges in Alaska,” Cher tweeted. “SHOOT ‘EM FROM [planes].”

“Senate Republicans have shown just how mean-spirited and petty they are with today’s vote,” said Brett Hartl, the government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Passing a law to allow baby bears to be killed in their dens should be beneath the dignity of the Senate, but apparently it’s not.”

What Hartl doesn’t disclose is that the repealed regulation was brand new. Former President Barack Obama only enacted the rules in 2016. Apparently it was legal to shoot hibernating bears from planes under most of Obama’s tenure.

But Alaskan officials objected mightily to the 2016 rules, saying it was just another example of federal officials taking state control away from Alaskans.

“First, the [Obama] rule usurped Alaska’s legal authority to manage fish and wildlife on federal lands,” said Mike Anderson, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), in an email to LifeZette. “The Alaska Statehood Act passed in 1959, specifically granted Alaska that authority unless Congress passes a bill to limit such authority. It’s the same authority that’s granted to all other states … Second, unlike the state regulations being preempted, the rule is not based on sound science or established wildlife management principles.”

Murkowski said Alaska already regulates hunting well, and does not allow cruel practices. The senior Alaska senator told the Alaska Dispatch News that “opponents will allege that the repeal of this rule will legalize brutal predator control practices … the Senate should know that it is already illegal for hunters to use certain practices: gas against wolves, traps to bears. You can’t do this in national wildlife refuges in Alaska.”

Murkowski’s office reiterated that statement on Wednesday when contacted by LifeZette.

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At the heart of the liberals’ complaints is also what gave Congress the authority to revoke the regulation so easily, without threat of a filibuster.

To repeal the Obama regulation, Congress used the Congressional Review Act, which became law in 1996. The law was a key promise of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and it was encased in the famous Contract with America in 1994.

The law allows recently passed regulations, forged by government agencies, to be revoked by Congress in an expedited fashion. Congress has already used the CRA to end several Obama regulations.

Trump has joined in on the deregulation offense, heading to EPA headquarters on Tuesday and signing an executive order reviewing the Clean Power Plan. The Obama-issued plan placed unsustainable new greenhouse-gas emission limits on coal-fired power plants, and Trump — surrounded by coal miners — signed his order to kill it.

The attacks soon came.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) trotted out an old line to attack Trump.

“The Trump Administration is sabotaging our chances of becoming the world’s ‘clean energy’ superpower in order to line the pockets of polluters,” Cantwell tweeted.

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Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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