(AP) A federal Appeals Court says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued correct rules for oil company interactions with polar bears during drilling in Alaska's Chukchi Sea.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that the agency correctly issued rules that provide legal protection to oil companies if small numbers of polar bears or Pacific walruses are incidentally harmed by their activities.
The Center for Biological Diversity sued over the rules and appealed when the case was rejected in District Court.
Federal law prohibits the "take" of marine mammals, which covers harassment or disruptions to behavior patterns.
Appeals Court judges backed the agency determination that only small numbers of polar bears and walrus would be affected and that harassment would have a negligible effect.