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Archived: Environmental Laws Legal Cases

Since its creation in 1977, MSLF has been one of the Nation's leading legal centers fighting environmental overkill and the use of so-called environmental statutes to achieve other public policy objectives. MSLF believes, not only in a sensible, science-based balance between environmental goals and economic growth, but in making people part of the environmental equation. MSLF has achieved a number of important legal precedents in its 25 year fight for reasonable environmental policy.

In Re Polar Bear Endangered Species Act Listing And § 4(D) Rule Litigation

Legal Question:

Whether the Secretary of the Interior acted arbitrarily and capriciously when he listed the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act?

Plaintiff:

State of Alaska, Safari Club International; and Safari Club International Foundation, California Cattlemen's Association; and Congress of Racial Equality, Conservation Force; Inuvialuit Game Council; Arviat Hunters and Trappers Organization; Resolute Bay Hunters and Trappers Organization; Louie Nigiyok d/b/a Arctic Hills Tour Company; Nanuk Outfitting, Ltd., Canada North Outfittings, Inc.; Americana Expeditions, Inc.; Webb Outfitting Nunavut, Ltd.; Henik Lake Adventures, Ltd.; Joseph Verni d/b/a Natura Sport; Dallas Safari Club; Houston Safari Club; African Safari Club of Florida, Inc.; Mark Beeler; Timothy Decker; Chris Hanks; Don Hershey; Steve Hornady; William Keene; Rob Kreider; Allyn Ladd; Ethel Leedy; Everett Madson; Aaron Neilson; Major Roger Oerter; Bradley Pritz; Kevin Reid; Robert Remillard; Jeff Sevor; Steve Smith; Ted Stallings; Larry Steiner; Darwin J. Vander Esch; and Tim Walters

Defendant:

Kenneth L. Salazar, Secretary, Department of the Interior; United States Fish and Wildlife Service; Daniel M. Ashe, Director, United States Fish & Wildlife Service

Amicus Curiae:

Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF)

Court:

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
A responsive pleading by the United States .

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are marine mammals found throughout ice-covered seas in the Northern Hemisphere that live on sea ice but spend significant time on land and have endured through previous periods of global warming. In the late 1960s, some 8,000-10,000 polar bears were known to exist, but today there are 20,000-25,000 polar bears worldwide. In the last few years, the worldwide population has not declined significantly.

Nonetheless, in response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity to list the polar bear under the ESA, the FWS, in January 2007, published a finding that listing of the polar bear was warranted and a draft rule to list the polar bear as "threatened." In May 2008, the Secretary of Interior published both a final rule determining polar bears to be threatened and regulations to protect the polar bear.

The FWS opined that polar bear habitat—sea ice—is declining over the species' range, that this decline is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, and that this loss threatens the species throughout all of its range. According to the FWS, productivity, abundance, and availability of ice seals—the polar bear's primary prey—will be diminished by the loss of sea ice and polar bears will be required to expend more energy to obtain food. The FWS concluded that existing regulations are inadequate because they were not effective in "counteracting the worldwide growth of" greenhouse gasses.

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