Now that the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled on an offshore oil drilling project in the Arctic, polar pear protectors finally have a reason to celebrate.
Young polar bear in Alaska by Hans-Jurgen Mager
Bastions of unusually-rich biodiversity in the waters of the Beaufort Sea will remain undisturbed with the project’s defeat, as it would have required building not only the oil derrick itself, but a gravel mine in the bay to to make the rig’s pylons, as well as many supporting installations.
After the Trump administration gave approval for the project in 2018 to Hillcorp Alaska, its Liberty oil project in Foggy Island Bay was immediately slapped with lawsuits decrying the permits. The decision came on December 7 from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
“I’m pleased that the court today rejected the administration’s inaccurate and misleading analysis of this project’s impact to the climate,” said Earth Justice attorney Jeremy Lieb in a statement from the Center for Biological Diversity following the decision.
“In the face of a worsening climate crisis, the federal government should not be in the business of approving irresponsible offshore oil development in the Arctic.”
“Today’s news is a victory for Alaska’s imperiled polar bears that are threatened by oil and gas development throughout virtually all of their terrestrial denning critical habitat—in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and in the nearshore marine environment, as well,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director at Defenders of Wildlife, another of the environmental groups which filed lawsuits.