The federal government wants to push ahead with its plan to designate a huge swath of the Arctic as critical habitat for endangered polar bears over the wishes of the state of Alaska and trade associations.
Justice Department lawyer Robert Stockman on Tuesday urged appeals court judges to overturn a lower court’s decision rejecting the plan.
Stockman says the critical habitat designation of an area larger than California was as specific as it could be to protect polar bears based on the best available science.
About 95 percent of the designated habitat is ocean. The other 5 percent is along the northern Alaska coast.
U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline in 2013 said geographical features needed by polar bear females for creating dens and giving birth were not shown to be present on much of the land designated as critical habitat.