Animal rights defenders and other advocacy groups found a reason to celebrate on Monday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected the Trump administration’s Liberty Project approval. The Liberty Project is a proposal to drill for offshore oil in Arctic waters.
In opposition to the proposed project, several climate advocacy groups joined hands in a court battle to have the project rejected. Speaking on Monday, Kristen Monsell, the legal director at The Center for Biological Diversity, said that the court’s ruling has averted a disaster.
“This is a huge victory for polar bears and our climate,” Monsell said. “This project was a disaster waiting to happen that should never have been approved. I’m thrilled the court saw through the Trump administration’s attempt to push this project through without carefully studying its risks.”
Marcie Keever, the legal director of Friends of the Earth, one of the advocacy groups involved in the case, also applauded the ruling. “Thankfully, the court put the health of our children and our planet over oil company profits,” Keever said.
The court cited various discrepancies with the proposed project. The court pointed out that the project had not considered the impact of the oil drilling activities on the local climate. In addition, the court also found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider how the Liberty Project would affect polar bears before issuing the approval. This means that the Trump administration has been found in direct contravention of the Endangered Species Act, a law that the government should defend and protect.
Despite the momentary win for polar bears in the Liberty Project case, the animals are still at great risk due to the continuing efforts to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas companies. Research has shown that the Arctic is warming up at a much faster rate than other areas of the planet. Further exploration of this natural environment continues to have devastating consequences for the local communities, animals and climate.
Image via Hans-Jurgen Mager