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The fossil fuel industry doesn't like the fact that polar bears need a place to live.  They don't like the fact that polar bears need a place to breed and raise their young.

      Polar Bear Ursus maritimus
                                      Get off my yard by AWF Volunteering

Add this to your list of reasons to hate the Earth destroying fossil fuel industry.  They target one of the most magnificently beautiful creatures on our planet; a creature whose offspring is so adorable that it's replicas are universally popular as children's sleep aids.

Recently, a federal court in Alaska overturned a Fish and Wildlife Service habitat designation for polar bears after the fossil fuel industry sued, complaining that the habitat interfered with oil exploration.  

Grist

   A U.S. court in Alaska has overturned a federal rule aimed at protecting polar bear habitat in the Arctic, handing a victory to the oil and natural-gas industry.

    The rule, established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is “valid in many respects,” but the agency didn’t follow all the legally required steps before adopting the regulation, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline wrote in the decision, which was dated Thursday and published Friday. …

    The government designated barrier islands, offshore sea-ice and “denning” areas, where female polar bears are known to make dens where they give birth to their young during winter months, as critical habitat. At the time of the designation, in November 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service said the areas were “essential for the conservation of the bear.”

The oil industry doesn't listen to anybody.  So what if your species will go extinct?  You made the great mistake of choosing a habitat that is over vast quantities of the remains of other creatures who were driven to extinction.

A federally protested habitat means nothing when the citizens of a state profit from it's destruction.   And so it was with Alaska who partnered with the oil industry to screw the polar bears.

Where is the outrage?  When will this end?  It will only end when we can drive a stake through the heart of oil company profits.

Join Bill McKibben and 350.org for President's Day Protest at the Whitehouse against the oil industry at the White House.  See you there.

                 

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Comment Preferences

  •  What did the court actually say? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, johnny wurster

    I'm having a hell of a time finding a copy of the order.  Strangely, journalists don't seem to see the need to link to the order or say, tell us who the parties are.   Really frustrating

    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

    by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:09:46 AM PST

    •  article links to WSJ and seems to be under (0+ / 0-)

      a paywall so don't know if wsj links to order

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:14:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  if information is not beneficial to your point of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      freerad

      view don't publish it.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:14:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess the WSJ doesn't want people to know (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT

        that the biological substance of the rule was almost enitrley upheld.  Bad press for the oil and gas guys to let it be known that they're thrashing critical habitat.  not surprising though.

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 08:46:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I regularly email journalists these days (8+ / 0-)

      to tell them to link to the goddamn primary sources.

      •  It's a bad habit from the days of paper. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT

        Back before the internet, I totally understand that a journalist had to summarize succinctly, you obvious can't publish a 50 page court opinion in your newspaper.  It's just a limit of the medium.

        These days, not linking the relevant document is just poor practice.

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        I should have thought to look there

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 07:27:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Here is what the court said (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, marsanges, BlackSheep1

      Thanks to johnny wuster fo finding the case

      Long story short, the USFWS won on all the substantive issues, which means the rule will be back and is likely to be upheld once the record and procedural issues are fixed.  The plaintiffs won on some pretty technical points, which is enough to delay the rule.

      This was a consolidated suit by the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, the State of Alaska, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation against the US Fish & Wildlife Service, which is the agency that handles endangered terrestrial species.  By background, when a species is listed, the USFWS may designate areas as critical habitat, which triggers certain protections for key features, although this primarily comes into play for federal agencies.  (Private parties aren't affected largely unless they are applying for a federal permit for something).  Under the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedures Act, the USFWS has to meet certain evidentiary standards, and they have to show their work.  
      So, the plaintiffs here actually lost on almost everything, although the USFWS looks like it got sloppy on the "show your work" part of one piece, and also didn't comply with certain procedural requirements, which means the rule is kicked back to the agency to fix it, unless they appeal.  This is a stalling tactic, really.
      The take home message is that biologically, the designated critical habitat is well justified, but the plaintiffs won on a technicality.
      SO the court found the following:
      1) USFWS won on the claim that the Critical Habitat Designation (CHD) wasn't overbroad, since it didn't include the entire polar bear range.
      2) The USFWS correctly supported its finding that the polar bear actually uses the designated areas with reasonable frequency.
      3) The USFWS correctly supported its conclusion that sea ice should be included within the CHD
      4) The USFWS correctly supported its choices of special management actions that may be required to protect elements of the critical habitat, especially with respect to the sea ice.
      5) The USFWS correctly considered all economic impacts in its designation of critical habitat. (The USFWS concluded that the cost of the habitat designation would be roughly $54,000 a year.  Ironically, the plaintiffs lost on their claims that the agency hadn't given weight to indirect incidental costs because those costs are too speculative.  That was the argument industry and agencies used for years to ignore climate change.  Now they're hoisted by the own petards.  Ha!)
      6) The USFWS was within its discretion not to exclude Native Alaskan Corporation lands. Here, two villages were excluded, in part because good boundary information existed.  Thirteen others were not included in the first place.
      7) The USFWS adequately justified its designation of "No Disturbance Zones" around barrier islands, because the law allows areas free from human disturbance to be a basis for inclusion.
      8) The USFWS adequately demonstrated that the Critical Habitat would be beneficial to the species, and so prudent.
      9)  The USFWS adequately consulted with the State of Alaska in designating the habitat, as required.
      10) The USFWS was not required to consult with Native Alaskan Corporations to a greater extent than with other interested parties (such as the State)

      Where the USFWS lost was on two points:
      1) In one of the Units of the CHD (I think there are three), the USFWS cited the presence of dens, access to the sea ice, fall sea ice, and freedom from human disturbance.  The record compiled by the USFWS showed evidence of dens and access to the sea ice, but was either missing or ambiguous on the presence of fall sea ice and freedom from human disturbance, so the rule is remanded to fix that data problem.  Similarly, the USFWS didn't show where the access to feeding grounds is located within Unit 3, so the USFWS will have to compile that information as well.  
      2) Finally, the USFWS's separate response to state agency comments not incorporated into the rule did not address all comments from Alaska and the letter was sent to the Governor, not the Alaska Department of Fish& Game, so the rule was overturned for those procedural violations. ,

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 08:45:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  very interesting. Questions! (0+ / 0-)

        (1) What are "Native Alaskan Corporations" ?
        (2) In part it sounds as if these would complain about the CHD but in the list of plaintiffs they are not mentioned.
        (3) Therefore, does this mean the N. A. C. see the CHD as a positive or negative?

        (4) On Sea Ice. What does it mean if it is designed as critical habitat (to be protected)?
        (5) Specifically, if scientists say (as they do) that the concrete CO2 emission of this and other countries collectively destroys this Critical Habitat, would that not mean that CO2 emissions as such have to be outlawed? That may sound silly, but how does this not consititue a possible jumpoff point for very far reaching consequences?
        (6) If it doesnt, then what is such a protection declaration actually worth?

        As, the Sea Ice will be gone within ten years from now. We know that already.

        •  A few rought answers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marsanges

          going from memory, Native corporations are Alaskas answer to tribes in the rest of the country.  By a quirk of US law, tribes in alaska are organized as corporations, many of them at the village level.  

          They might object but not have wanted to sign on to actually suing the US Government for whatever reason.  Truth be told, i'd hazard a guess that there some villages are for and some against, and there are disagreements within villages and corporations.

          Now, the Critical Habitat Designation is a strange beast, and it's not a very powerful protection, typically.  Generally, if memory serves it means that for any federal agency to grant a permit in the area, the federal agency has to make a finding that the action (which includes approving permits) would not adversely modify the attributes of the critical habitat that make it habitat (these are the components the court talks about, by and large). Thus, what it really does is make the federal agencies consider impacts to the habitat as well as impacts to the species when approving permits.  US FWS also has to sign off on those determinations.

          So, it wouldn't ban CO2 emissions, since only federal agencies are governed by it.  The question of permitting for a large CO2 emitter might trigger an analysis of impacts to the CHD is interesting, but largely theoretical sincce those impacts aren't direct enough, given everythign else that's going on.

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 12:11:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mindful Nature

            Interesting concept there - the tribe as coporation.

            LOL, don´t mind. I´m trying to digest your answer. Thanks again.

            •  It comes from the Alaska Native Claims Settlement (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              marsanges

              Act.  Wikipedia has some information  Part of the effort on Congress' part was to try to avoid the tribal soverignty of the Nations that we have in the lower 48.  Hawai'i has a different legal structure as well.  I think the notion was to try a different approach to working with native claims.  I'm afraid I'm not closely tied enough to that community to have a good sense of whether it has worked all that well.

              Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

              by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 02:56:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  thanks again. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mindful Nature

                this was the most interesting thing I have learnt here all evening. Grounds to look further into how these indian "corporations" have acted in reality since the 70´s. But that will have to wait to another day- bed - (I feel the call of the horizontal). Goodnight, until another day.  

                •  let me know what you find! (0+ / 0-)

                  I do both endangered species law and work for tribes on occasion,but haven't done any work up that way.

                  thanks!

                  Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

                  by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 04:53:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  more here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

    http://dailycaller.com/...

    but probably the most pertinent is that though the ice cap is melting and habitat for the polar bear shrinking, scientifically, despite the fact that children love little stuffed toys that are soft and fury and look like polar bears, the most respected voice in species endangerment in the world doesn't list them.

    http://www.iucnredlist.org/...

    They are listed as "vulnerable". I think they will be put on the endangered list within a couple decades, and rightly so, but not yet.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:25:25 AM PST

    •  Which is what the ESA listing says (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, AoT

      they are threatened, not endangered.  And the notion that they'll be endangered in a couple of decades because of forseeable trends is precisely what the "threatened" designation (or vulnerable, which is comparable) means.

      So, both the USFWS and the IUCN agree that if action is not taken, the polar bear is going to be in serious trouble.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 08:49:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the court's standard (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, beach babe in fl

    was that the service included large amounts of land, but could not pin point inch by inch why each each was perfectly suitable to den.   Therefore, despite incredible amounts of scientific evidence of the danger, the need and the type of areas that polar bears need to den,   the court substituted its judgment for the services and decided they failed to meet the technical requirements to uphold the rule.

    It read about like the poll test cases from the old days.

    •  Well (0+ / 0-)

      For what it's worth, I'm not sure the court is wrong here.

      CHDs are tricky, and each part needs to have a list of what the critical components are and then provide evidence that those critical components are actually there.  It sounds like the USFWS simply neglected to include information demonstrating that three of the seven at issue are present.  

      and the procedural issue raised about the responses to comments is a new one to me, and that reasoning looks like it may well lose on appeal. I mean seriously the notion that they sent the letter to the Governor and not to ADF&G seems a stretch.  

      It'll be interesting to watch.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 08:52:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Doubtful it will be upheld (0+ / 0-)

    It's doubtful this ruling will be upheld by the 9th circuit when appealed.  Judge Beistline is a G.W. Bush appointee........

    •  It's a fairly narrow and technical reading (0+ / 0-)

      and there do seem to be some technical problems with how the USFWS presented the data and how they responded to the State of Alaska.

      USFWS might not appeal, but they might be better served to just fix the problems and republish the rule.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 08:47:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  And the polar bears say (4+ / 0-)

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

    muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

    by veritas curat on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 08:42:56 AM PST

  •  Looks like they deserved to lose. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock

    From the decision:

    the Service’s finding that such designation “will not result in any present or anticipated future conservation benefit to the polar bear species”
    You have to have a rational basis for regulation.

    The court was still really generous to the defendants, and agrees with them on almost every point.

    The Service left out “those U.S. waters north of the 300-meter depth boundary in the Beaufort Sea[,]63 . . . [some] areas on the North Slope of Alaska that polar bears use for denning[, and] . . . any denning habitat on the West coast of Alaska or west of the town of Barrow . . . .”64 “Entire” does not mean virtually all; it means all. The Service did not designate all of the potential polar bear geographical area. Thus, the Service’s action did not violate the APA.
    So I guess you could designate everything but say, a postage-stamped piece of land and still be in compliance.

    However, see p. 36 of the ruling and continuing from there:

    The Service points to two other studies to show that all of the essential features were found in Unit 2, but such studies only confirm that the first feature is found in roughly one percent of the entire area designated.167 Thus, the Service has identified physical or biological features in approximately one percent of Unit 2, but fails to point to the location of any features in the remaining ninety-nine percent.
    By conceding that the Service included the areas around Deadhorse merely because the agency could find that such areas contained one of the four essential features, the Service suggests that it had not, at the time of listing or at the time of its briefing, established that any of the required features existed in such areas, thereby, violating the requirement that essential features be found in areas before designating them as critical habitat.

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