Federal Polar Bear Critical Habitat Rule Vacated

Here are materials in Alaska Oil and Gas Assn. v. Salazar (D. Alaska):

Alaska Natives Motion for Summary J

Federal Consolidated Opposition Brief

Alaska Natives Reply

DCT Order Vacating Polar Bear Rule

From the opinion:

Plaintiffs contend that the Service proceeded with an unprecedented critical habitat designation despite the Service’s finding that such designation “will not result in any present or anticipated future conservation benefit to the polar bear species ” and is not “ ‘essential’ to the conservation of the species.” Plaintiffs further opine that: (1) such designation will “have significant adverse ramifications for the people who live and work on the North Slope, for Alaska’s oil and gas industry, and for the State of Alaska”; (2) the designation will “leave the species worse off because it is impairing the cooperative relationship that the … [Service] has sought to build with the Alaska Natives”; (3) the Service’s failure to exclude “native-owned lands and rural communities” will “disproportionately harm Alaska Natives and other North Slope Borough residents”; (4) the Service failed “to engage in meaningful consultation with [the State of Alaska and with] Alaska Natives early in the rulemaking process”; (5) the Service’s inclusion of “a one-mile no disturbance zone as part of the barrier island habitat unit of the designation … exceeds its authority under the ESA”; (6) “[t]he Service failed to adequately consider and include in the calculation of the total economic impacts of the designation the substantial indirect incremental economic impacts”; (7) “[t]he Service failed to provide Alaska with an adequate written justification as required by the ESA … for promulgating a … designation that conflicts with the comments submitted to the” Service; (8) the Service failed to address the area exclusion requests by Alaska “and failed to adequately consider whether the benefits of excluding those areas were outweighed by the benefits of including them”; (9) “[t]he Service improperly included areas that it concedes were not occupied by polar bears at the time of the designation”; and (10) “[t]he Service improperly included areas as critical habitat without determining that those areas contained the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the polar bear.” Plaintiffs seek the invalidation of the Final Rule and request that the Court vacate and remand the Rule.

 

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