Native groups sue over polar bear critical habitat

By Rachel D'oro
Anchorage, Alaska (AP) May 2011

Alaska Native groups are suing the federal government, challenging its designation of critical habitat for threatened polar bears on Alaska’s oil-rich North Slope.

The Arctic Slope Regional Corp., North Slope Borough, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and others filed the lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The lawsuit says the designation “will not address the primary threat to polar bears, the loss of sea ice due to climate change.’’

Environmentalists say polar bears need a reduction in greenhouse gases that cause climate warming.

The suit follows federal lawsuits filed in March by the state of Alaska and the Alaska Oil and Gas Association over the habitat designation of more than 187,000 square miles (484,330 sq. kilometers), an area larger than California.