Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, August 3, 2016

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita,, (510) 844-7108

9th Circuit to Hear Oil Industry Challenge to Bearded Seal Protections

ANCHORAGE— Judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Aug. 4 in an oil industry lawsuit challenging the 2012 federal decision to give Endangered Species Act protections to bearded seals, a species threatened by climate change and the melting sea ice around Alaska.

Attorneys representing the National Marine Fisheries Service will be joined by attorney Kristen Monsell from the Center for Biological Diversity, which originally petitioned for the listing and intervened in the case.

“Climate change is robbing bearded seals of the ice they need to survive. The powerful protections of the Endangered Species Act will give these seals a fighting chance while we work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Monsell said. “We can’t let the oil industry undermine efforts to save bearded seals or address the global warming that the rampant burning of its product is causing.”

What: Oral arguments in Alaska Oil and Gas Association et al. vs. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, et al., and Center for Biological Diversity (Intervenor-Defendant). The case was appealed to the 9th Circuit after the district court stripped bearded seals of Endangered Species Act protections.

Where: Courtroom 2, Anchorage District Courthouse Alaska, 222 W. 7th Avenue

Who: Attorney Kristen Monsell defending the Fisheries Service decision to protect bearded seals in Alaska

When: Thursday, August 4, 9 a.m. Alaska time. The hearing is open to the press and public.

Why: Bearded seals, named for their distinctively thick whiskers, give birth and nurse their pups on pack ice over shallow waters where their bottom-dwelling food is abundant. The rapid loss of pack ice jeopardizes their ability to raise their young and find food. As of July 18, Arctic sea-ice coverage had dropped to about 3 million square miles, one of the lowest years on record and possibly on pace to break the record set in September 2012.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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