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Document Type

Comments

Abstract

In February 2016, in Alaska Oil & Gas Ass’n v. Jewell, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate 187,000 square miles in northern Alaska as critical polar bear habitat. The Ninth Circuit rejected the reasoning of the District Court for the District of Alaska which found that the FWS failed to meet the “standard of specificity” required by the Endangered Species Act in determining what geographical areas constituted critical habitat. Rather, the Ninth Circuit focused on the ESA’s broad statutory purposes of species preservation and conservation, and gave great deference to the agency’s decision. This Comment argues that the Ninth Circuit created an impermissibly broad approach to critical habitat designations under the ESA. Further, this decision creates a dangerous precedent for the amount of deference lower courts may apply to agency actions in the future.

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