The U.S. Supreme Court denied on Monday petitions brought up by the State of Alaska, native corporations, local governments, and the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, challenging the federal government's decision to designate more than 187,000 square miles of critical habitat for the polar bear.
In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated more than 187,000 square miles of on-shore barrier islands, denning areas, and offshore sea-ice as critical habitat for the threatened polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.
Since 2010, the habitat designation has been challenged in various courts before ending up at the Justices who yesterday declined to hear the challenge filed by the State of Alaska and Alaska's oil industry.
In 2013, a district court shot down the FWS habitat designation, but an appeals court overturned the district court's ruling in 2016.
Now with the Supreme Court declining to hear the challenge to the appeals court ruling, the appeals court decision backing the FWS will stand, Alaska Dispatch News says.
Back in 2013, when a district court decided to vacate the polar bear critical habitat designation, Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA) said that it applauded the court decision in what it saw as a win for the oil and gas industry in Alaska.
Then in February 2016, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment, and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of FWS.
In their petition to the Supreme Court from November 2016, the petitioners challenging the habitat designation argued that "the sweeping designation overlaps almost all of the existing and proposed oil and gas operations on the North Slope, covers all of the home lands of some Native groups, and covers lands selected by the State of Alaska and Native groups pursuant to federal law to ensure the economic future of the people of Alaska."