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In ‘Huge Victory for Polar Bears’, Court Rejects Arctic Offshore Drilling Project


Now that the United States Court of Appeals has ruled on an offshore oil drilling project in the Arctic, the polar pear protectors finally have 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 intact 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 make the towers. from the platform, too. so many support facilities.

After the Trump administration gave Hillcorp Alaska project approval in 2018, its Liberty oil project in Foggy Island Bay was immediately slapped with lawsuits denouncing the permits. The decision came on December 7 from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“I am pleased that the court today rejected the administration’s inaccurate and misleading analysis of the impact of this project on the climate,” said Earth Justice attorney Jeremy Lieb. in a sentence of the Center for Biological Diversity after the decision.

“Given the worsening climate crisis, the federal government should not be in the business of approving the irresponsible development of offshore oil in the Arctic.”

“Today’s news is a victory for Alaska’s endangered polar bears that are threatened by oil and gas development in virtually all of their critical land-defining habitat, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Arctic National Reserve. Oil from Alaska and in the offshore marine environment, as good, ”said Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director at Defenders of Wildlife, another of the environmental groups that filed lawsuits.

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The devil was in the details

Foggy Island Bay is home to a host of threatened and endangered marine mammals, including polar bears, six species of whales, three species of seals, sea lions, sea otters, and Pacific walruses. Seabirds, numerous species of fish, and larger mammals frequent the shallow waters around the bay.

The presence of some of these animals, including polar bears, means that construction would involve the protections of the Endangered Species Act. In addition, there were also omissions on the amount of carbon that the project would add to the atmosphere through oil extraction.

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The prosecution argument that the Liberty project, which contains around 120 million barrels, would extract oil for sale on the global market, lower prices and allow more nations to buy more oil, and that this would add many more millions of metric tons of CO2 than if The oil was not extracted and we buy it in other countries.

The defense argued that by ensuring the highest quality environmental standards at the Liberty project, it would benefit the environment as the oil would not be produced in countries with far less strict regulations.

The court ruled that the omission of foreign oil emission estimates, poor-quality modeling, including untested assumptions, and the failure of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to properly measure risks to polar bears Endangered was enough to bring down the Liberty project.

The decision comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s Army Corps of Engineers decided in November to scrap the infamous Pebble Mine project In alaska. Now the endangered whales, seals, birds and polar bears will have the area to themselves.

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