The National Association of Manufacturers, American Iron and Steel Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute have filed another challenge to the Fish & Wildlife Service's decision to list polar bears as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. Interestingly, one aspect of the listing they are challenging is the federal government's differential treatment of energy projects in Alaska.
They object to what they call the "Alaska Gap" in relation to the special rule the federal government issued in May in conjunction with the polar bear's protected status. The rule, meant to prevent the polar bear's status from being used as a tool for imposing greenhouse gas limits, exempts projects in all states except Alaska from undergoing review in relation to emissions.
NAM Vice President Keith McCoy said the group sees the rule as unfairly subjecting Alaskan industry to greenhouse gas controls and also opening a back door for greenhouse gas regulation nationwide.
"This could significantly curtail oil and gas exploration," especially on Alaska's North Slope, he said. "It's discrimination against the state of Alaska. During a time when gas prices are high and we need to look at all options, to issue something that shuts off a viable resource" is ill-advised, he said.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the D.C. Circuit, notes that greenhouse gas emissions worldwide contribute to global warming. It says projects in Alaska should not be subject to special scrutiny because of the polar bear's status.
Not having read the briefs (yet), this seems to me like a more fruitful avenue of attack than a frontal challenge to the listing itself. Overturning a listing decision is quite difficult, and I don't expect any of the lawsuits to be successful on that front.