Description: Challenge to designation of Arctic subspecies of ringed seal as threatened.
Alaska Oil & Gas Association v. Ross
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/12/2018 Memorandum Download Decision issued reinstating listing. Ninth Circuit Reinstated Listing of Arctic Ringed Seals as Threatened. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court decision that vacated the listing of the Arctic ringed seal as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In an unpublished decision, the Ninth Circuit said its 2016 opinion reversing a district court’s striking down of the listing of the bearded seal adjudicated the same issues and was the controlling law of the circuit. As in that case, the Ninth Circuit found that the National Marine Fisheries Service’s finding that the Arctic ringed seal was likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future due to their reliance on sea ice was reasonable and supported by the record. The court said it was not arbitrary or capricious to rely on climate change models that projected through 2100. The Ninth Circuit also said the district court had misapplied Section 4 of the ESA by requiring quantitative data that was not available to pinpoint an extinction threshold. 10/20/2017 Brief Download Reply brief filed by federal appellants. 03/23/2017 Brief Download Answering brief filed by State of Alaska. 03/23/2017 Brief Download Answering brief filed by industry groups. 03/23/2017 Brief Download Answering brief filed by Alaska Native tribal governments and regional corporations. Industry Groups, Alaska Native Organizations, and State of Alaska Urged Ninth Circuit Not to Reinstate Threatened Listing for Arctic Ringed Seal. Three briefs were filed defending an Alaska district court’s decision vacating the listing of the Arctic ringed seal as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Two of the briefs—filed by oil and gas trade groups and Alaska Native regional corporations and tribal governments—focused on the argument that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) had unlawfully relied on speculative and unreliable evidence that loss of sea ice would bring the ringed seal to the brink of extinction by the end of the century. These two briefs also asserted that the Ninth Circuit’s decision in a similar case reinstating the listing of the bearded seal as threatened was not controlling. The third brief, which the State of Alaska submitted, argued that the NMFS had not adequately considered or responded to State agency comments and submissions. 11/01/2016 Brief Download Opening brief filed by intervenor-defendant Center for Biological Diversity. 10/17/2016 Brief Download Opening brief filed. The federal government filed a brief urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a district court decision vacating the listing of a ringed seal subspecies as threatened based on climate change threats through the end of the century.
Alaska Oil & Gas Association v. National Marine Fisheries Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 03/17/2016 Not Available Download Listing vacated. Federal Court Said Information on Impact of Sea-Ice Loss on Ringed Seals Was Too Speculative to Support Listing as Threatened Species. The federal district court for the District of Alaska struck down the listing of the Arctic subspecies of ringed seal as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The court said that the listing was not reasonable because the subspecies population was currently strong and healthy and the listing was grounded primarily in “speculation as to what circumstances may or may not exist 80 to 100 years from now.” The court said that the National Marine Fisheries Service had acknowledged that it lacked reliable data regarding the impacts of loss of sea-ice due to climate change in that extended timeframe.