Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Disappointed in Ninth Circuit Court Decision
Ruling could needlessly delay or cancel development projects in the state and make cost of living in northern and western regions even higher
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) is reacting to this week’s decision by the three-member panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which sets aside approximately 187,000 square miles in Alaska as critical habitat for polar bears. That’s an area larger than the states of Washington and Arizona combined, and reverses a 2013 conclusion by the U.S. District Court for Alaska.
“We are very concerned and frustrated by this decision,” said Rex A. Rock Sr., ASRC president and CEO. “Clearly, it is another egregious example of federal overreach when it comes to the limited rights and protections the Alaska Native community has on its own lands. This appellate court’s finding threatens to impede much-needed economic development in our region at a time when the state’s economy is already unstable. It could also make the cost of goods and services even steeper.”
Rock strongly added, “As I have said in the past, this wrong-minded decision will adversely affect the indigenous people and communities across our region, with the area now set aside larger than the state of California. The science used to justify the ruling is inappropriate and does not reflect the dynamic ocean sea ice regime or the life cycle of these animals. Through this process the USFWS and now the Ninth Circuit is wrongfully burdening the people of the North Slope.”
In the fall of 2010 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced its plan to set aside the area across the Arctic Slope, Northwest Arctic, Bering Straits and Calista regions as critical habitat for polar bears. For more than five years, ASRC and the North Slope Borough have been leading a coalition of Alaska Native groups from the North Slope, Northwest and Southwest Alaska to fight that ruling in court. The coalition has until mid-April to ask for a rehearing.
Rural Alaska is also being hit by other burdensome efforts that include international agreements with Russia to limit the take of Alaska-Chukotka polar bears without the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appropriately consulting with or incorporating the views of North Slope Alaska Natives. In addition, proposals to the U.S. and Canadian governments from the World Wildlife Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council threaten to shut down economic opportunities for Alaska’s Arctic residents.
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is owned by and represents the business interests of the Arctic Slope Iñupiat. Since opening enrollment in 1990 to Alaska Natives born after 1971, the corporation’s shareholder base has nearly tripled, growing from the 3,700 original enrollees to around 13,000 today. Corporate headquarters are based in Barrow, Alaska, with administrative and subsidiary offices located in Anchorage and throughout the United States. ASRC, along with its family of companies, is the largest Alaskan-owned company, employing approximately 10,000 people worldwide. The company has six major business segments: petroleum refining and marketing, energy support services, construction, industrial services, government services and resource development.
Corporate Headquarters • PO Box 129 • Barrow, Alaska 99723-0129 • 907.852.8533 or 907.852.8633 • FAX 907.852.5733