The “Best Available Science” Is That the Arctic Ringed Seal Is Threatened

Earlier this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court decision and reinstated the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to list the Arctic ringed seal as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  The decision was not a surprise, because the 9th Circuit had already affirmed NMFS’s decision to list the bearded seal on identical grounds.

What caught my eye was this language in the opinion – actually a quote from the bearded seal decision.

[T]he IPCC climate models constitut[e] the best available science and reasonably suppor[t] the determination that a species reliant on sea ice likely would become endangered in the foreseeable future.

If courts of appeal believe that the IPCC climate models are the “best available science,” that doesn’t really bode well for any Trump administration efforts to undo the endangerment finding or take other regulatory action based on the view that mainstream climate science is not reliable.

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