"A 187,000 square-mile swath of land and sea in Alaska was restored by a federal appeals court as a “critical habitat” for polar bears, a boon for the endangered species and yet another blow to Alaska’s tumbling petroleum industry.
Monday’s ruling overturned a lower court decision siding with Alaska state officials and energy industry groups which argued that protections for the bears ordered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service six years ago were too arbitrary be enforced.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco will affect all proposed greenfield and expansion projects along the Beaufort and Chukchi seas north of Alaska and east of Russia. Existing projects are likely to be grandfathered in, said Brendan Cummings, a lawyer for the Center of Biological Diversity in Joshua Tree, California, representing environmental groups involved in the case."