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Media Alerts - D.C. Circuit upholds listing of polar bear as a threatened species
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March 1, 2013
  D.C. Circuit upholds listing of polar bear as a threatened species
Case Name: In re: Polar Bear Endangered Species Act Listing

Alert Type: New case

Area of Law:
Administrative law

Issue(s) Presented: Whether the Fish and Wildlife Services acted arbitrarily and capriciously by listing the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Brief Summary: In 2005, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Secretary of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service ("FWS") to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. After a three-year rulemaking process, FWS decided to list the polar bear as a threatened species, finding that, as a result of global climate change affecting the bear's habitat, it was likely to become an endangered species and face the threat of extinction within the foreseeable future. This decision was challenged by a number of industry groups, environmental organizations, and states, on the grounds that the rule was either overly restrictive or insufficiently protective of the polar bear. All challenges were consolidated as a Multidistrict Litigation case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The district court granted summary judgment to FWS and rejected all challenges to the listing rule. Challengers appealed, claiming that the listing rule was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and that the rulemaking process had been deficient.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the judgment of the district court. The D.C. found it "significant" that Appellants did not point to any mistakes agency's reasoning, did not challenge the agency's findings on climate science or on polar bear biology, and did not introduce any data or studies that the agency had overlooked in the rulemaking process. Concluding that Appellants' principal claim was that FWS misinterpreted and misapplied the record before it, the D.C. Circuit agreed with the district court that that the challenges "amount[ed] to nothing more than competing views about policy and science," rather than a defect in the rulemaking process sufficient to invalidate the agency's decision.

For the full text of this opinion, visit:$file/11-5219.pdf

Panel: Garland, Brown, Edwards

Argument Date: 10/19/2012

Date of Issued Opinion: 3/1/2013

Docket Number:
No. 11-5219

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Ripple Weistling

Counsel, if known:

Author of Opinion: Edwards

Author of Dissent: N/A

Circuit: D.C. Circuit

    Posted By: Ripple Weistling @ 03/01/2013 12:55 PM     DC Circuit  

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