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Parker Moore Quoted in Law360 on Climate Change Projections

November 2, 2016

Parker Moore, a Principal in Beveridge & Diamond's Washington, DC office and leader of the firm’s Endangered Species and Wildlife Protection practice group, was quoted in a Law360 article titled "Climate Change Projections Gain Credence As ESA Metric."

The article discusses the Ninth Circuit's recent ruling that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) appropriately relied on long-term climate change impact modeling data to justify listing the bearded seal as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  In Alaska Oil & Gas Association vs. Pritzker, the Ninth Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision that NMFS may not find that the species is threatened, or “likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future,” based on projections from a 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report regarding future sea ice loss in the Artic. 

Mr. Moore said that the court’s complete deference to NMFS’s reliance on the IPCC study and climate change modeling in general was misplaced.  In his view, the court also should have considered NMFS’s failure to account for the uncertainties associated with such long-term modeling, especially for species that are scarce to begin with since available information on them may be unreliable. “There are a number of inherent uncertainties associated with this type of modeling that didn’t get the attention that they deserve,” Moore said. 

That the court did not adequately consider those uncertainties “spells potential trouble for private stakeholders,” Moore added.  He believes it “will embolden environmental and conservation groups to press the government for additional listing decisions based on climate change projections, and the bar in the Ninth Circuit for the Service to show that a species warrants listing has now been lowered dramatically.” 

As a result, Moore explained that it will be important for industry to take the necessary steps to prevent this opinion from serving as a roadmap for future litigation.  To succeed in future cases, he said that private stakeholders should “focus on distinguishing each Arctic case from the others.” 

“If you really look at this case, it’s a very narrow set of circumstances focusing on the uniqueness of sea ice and sea ice loss as being a loss of habitat. That, to me, is something that’s dramatically different from other anticipated effects of climate change,” Moore said.

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