Over 200,000 square miles of Alaska and its coastal waters have been earmarked by the Department of the Interior as "critical habitat" for polar bears, according to Backpacker. With critical habitat status, the federal government prohibits any activity on the land or water that could threaten the protected species.
Not everyone is pleased. Governor Parnell's department filed a brief with the federal court to overturn the polar bear's status as a threatened species. Why? The new critical critical habitat status of the land could prevent future oil drilling.
"Currently, some are attempting to improperly use the Endangered Species Act to shut down resource development," Governor Parnell was quoted saying in the N.Y. Times. "And I'm not going to let this happen on my watch."