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Alaska State Senators Respond to Federal Ruling on Polar Bears

Federal Appeals court upheld U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision to place polar bears on threatened species list 


JUNEAU-Today, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. upheld the 2008 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to include polar bears on the threatened species list. The federal government fears climate change may possibly threaten the polar bear population starting in about 50 years.

“The federal appeals court decision is incredibly disappointing,” said Senate President Charlie Huggins. “America could be on its way to energy independence if only the federal government would free us to develop our vast natural resources. Federal overreach is out of control and Alaskans are sick and tired of the feds sticking their noses in every area of their lives.”

The Court of Appeals decision came after the U.S. District Court granted summary judgment to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Court of Appeals affirmed, after determining the Listing Rule was the product of “reasoned decision-making.”

Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole, categorically denies that conclusion.

“This decision comes despite repeated assertions by the State of Alaska that the Fish and Wildlife Service misapplied the statutory criteria for the listing decision,” said Senator Coghill, R-North Pole.  “Specifically, the agency ignored or misinterpreted the record before it and failed to adequately articulate the grounds for its decision.”

The court’s decision will make resource development in Alaska more difficult through tougher regulations. 

“We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling in support of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision based on speculation about environmental conditions 50 years into the future,” said Chair of Senate Resources Cathy Giessel, R-Turnagain Arm/North Kenai. “We’re coming up on the 100th year anniversary of our Territorial Legislature, unfortunately, that happy milestone also marks 100 years of contending with federal overreach. It’s completely unacceptable.”

Senator Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, questions the timing of the decision.

“Show me the science,” said Senator Bishop. “It’s premature to be making a decision about what may happen 50 years into the future based on unsettled science. I care about the environment as much as anybody, but our country needs Alaska to develop its abundant natural resources in order to sustain our way of life.”

Senators Coghill, Huggins, Bishop, and Giessel support any and all efforts for immediate appeal.

For more information, please call Communications Specialist Daniel McDonald at (907) 465-4066.

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