Hello all, I posted this story on my blog a few days ago. I have since posted a large update and further explanation. I will give you some info here and if you would like to read the full story please go to my blog.
This is amazing news folks, this could really blow the lid off yet another part of Bush's mismanagement.
The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Department of the Interior for political interference with 55 endangered species in 28 states. The notice initiates the largest substantive legal action in the 34-year history of the Endangered Species Act.
At stake in the suit is the illegal removal of one animal from the endangered species list, the refusal to place three animals on the list, proposals to remove or downgrade protection for seven animals, and the stripping of protection from 8.7 million acres of critical habitat for a long list of species from Washington State to Minnesota and Texas (see below for species and states affected).
"The Bush administration has tried to keep a lid on its growing endangered species scandal by scapegoating Julie MacDonald," said Suckling, "but the corruption goes much deeper than one disgraced bureaucrat. It reaches into the White House itself through the Office of Management and Budget. By attacking the problem systematically through this national lawsuit, we will expose just how thoroughly the distain for science and for wildlife pervades the Bush administration’s endangered species program." In many of the cases, government and university scientists carefully documented the editing of scientific documents, overruling of scientific experts, and falsification of economic analyses.
After years of "Healthy Skies" which increases air pollution, censoring scientists, scrubbing the Whitehouse website of all scientific information, denying global warming and in general being pushing a "faith based" approach to the environment. That is faith in the almighty dollar, people are finally taking legal actions to attack the Bush admin.
Some of you may have already heard about the resignation of Julie Macdonald, Asst Sec of the Dept of Interior. She apparently liked to give lobbyists internal DOI memos and information about ESA projects and such. She was SOO qualified for DOI due to being a civil engineer and working with people such as Pete Wilson. If you want to know where her priorties lie in completing her duties let me just tell you about this little award she got:
She was awarded $9000 in 2005 as a "Special Thanks for Achieving Results" right after Bush got reelected. LOVELY!!Link
Interior Department guidance says cash payments can be used to reward "an outstanding one-time accomplishment or contribution of a non-recurring nature that produces tangible savings or intangible benefits, [or] sustained exceptional performance."
But it appears MacDonald -- and perhaps other high-ranking political appointees -- operated under a different set of rules.
One FWS SES'er who spoke with ESWR said he had never heard of a STAR award -- the kind MacDonald received -- being given without a written justification. "Not in my experience," he said.
A Fish and Wildlife Service "Director's order," amended in November 2005, says that the justification for monetary awards "must reflect the employee's accomplishments and must be personalized and specific to the employee and his or her activities. Include details and outcomes of the employee's actions. Prepare justifications in a neat, easy-to-read format. Incomplete or illegible justifications will be returned to the nominating office for corrective action." In addition, the order says that "the documentation for this award should contain a specific statement of achievement and of tangible and/or intangible benefits to the government that provides the basis for the amount of the award granted. Award nominations initiated more than 3 months following the contribution(s) for recognition must include a statement justifying the tardiness of the nomination."
MacDonald, however, worked in the Office of the Secretary, not in FWS.
Read the article, it gets worse. So this women, who has NO training in anything remotely environment related gets promoted for really no apparent reason other than having worked with Pete Wilson and "consulting" on policies and "water law".
So what is happening now is that the Center for Biological Diversity is now filing the LARGEST lawsuit ever against the DOI. In the post on my blog I provide a lot more details about the suit but I will give you a taste of what it involves briefly.
Dear Secretary Kempthorne and Director Hall:
On behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and our 80,000 members and activist supporters, and pursuant to Section 11(g) of the ESA, we hereby provide you formal notice that the Department of Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have violated the listing and critical habitat provisions of the Endangered Species Act for 55 species.
The violations all stem from the overruling of USFWS scientists by high ranking bureaucrats in the White House Office of Budget and Management, the Department Interior, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Many of the decisions are directly traceable to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior Julie MacDonald. Others were committed by Randal Bowman, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Interior, and Craig Manson, the Assistant Secretary of Interior himself. Still others were committed by Ruth Solomon in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Clearly the number of endangered species harmed by the Bush administration’s concerted efforts to squelch scientific decision-making far exceeds the eight decision cynically identified by USFWS Chief Dale Hall last month. And the corruption which promoted the illegal actions goes far deeper than Julie MacDonald.
These are the opening paragraphs..they are not pulling any punches here folks. Now Macdonald has resigned but that is not going to appease this group, nor should we let it slide. These folks are fully aware of how corrupt the administration has become and seem pretty dedicated to rooting it out. Isn't it interesting that it's the "geeks" that have the backbone to take on the Bush admin on legal grounds. We cannot get people in Congress to agree that Bush should be brought to justice but the scientific community seems to have had enough of being ignored, censored, brushed off and ridiculed.
At my blog there are exerpts from the entire 22 page letter which documents case by case how the DOI broke the law. I will warn you in advance; if you click through to read it you will see the words overruled, overturned, ignored, capriciously overruled and arbitrary used more in one document then you will ever want to. The truly disheartening part is that this whole document is about how the Bush admin treats science, scientists, the environment..well hell THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD! If you weren't depressed enough, or angry enough get ready to be.
Here's a taste of what these charges involve:
44 CRITICAL HABITAT DECISIONS
Topeka Shiner (Notropis topeka) Critical Habitat
The Topeka shiner was listed in 1998 and still, tragically, does not possess a final recovery plan. The proposed critical habitat designation sought to protect 90,073 acres of habitat along 2,447 miles of river, while the final rule protected only 30,400 acres along 836 river miles. Fed. Reg. 44735 (July 27, 2004). The final rule excluded all of Missouri, Kansas and South Dakota. The dramatic 66% reduction was largely based on an illegal order by Ruth Solomon, Interior Department Desk Officer within the White House Office of Management and Budget to delete the economic benefits analysis of the critical habitat designation and replace it with a false statement the economic benefits were not and could not be considered. The designation also illegally relied draft conservation plans the USFWS knew were not being implemented and have not been fully implemented to this day. Finally, the Section 4(b)(2) exclusion exaggerated the costs and purposefully underestimated the benefits, rendering the exclusions arbitrary and capricious.
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) Critical Habitat
The final revised critical habitat rule for this riparian-dependant species, whose range includes arid ecosystems in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Texas, was published in 70 Fed. Reg. 60885 (October 19, 2005). This final rule consisted of 120,824 protected acres while the proposed rule had included 376,095 acres of critical habitat. As the USFWS has already conceded to some degree, Julie MacDonald inappropriately overruled agency biologists seeking to utilize the best scientific data available for this species’ critical habitat. Further, the critical habitat definition in the final rule unlawfully contradicts and excludes, without any rational explanation, the habitat "essential to the conservation" of this species as defined by its 2002 recovery plan. See 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1532(5) (definition of critical habitat). This final rule in question also illegally fails to consider economic benefits of critical habitat for this migratory bird species, rendering the Section 4(b)(2) exclusion arbitrary and capricious.
Spikedace (Meda fulgida) Critical Habitat
The final revised critical habitat rule for this desert fish species, whose range includes Arizona and New Mexico, was published in 72 Fed. Reg. 13355 (March 21, 2007) along with the loach minnow rule, supra. In a recurring pattern, this final rule protects far fewer river miles (259.9 miles) than both the 1st revised draft rule (807 miles) and the 2nd draft revised rule (375.9 miles). Julie MacDonald overruled agency scientists in violation of Section 4’s best available science standard. The final critical habitat rule disregarded the definition of habitat "essential to the conservation" of the species in the recovery plan, and the final rule exaggerates costs under Section 4(b)(2) by, inter alia, failing to accurately calculate and account for benefits of critical habitat. In addition, this final rule in question illegally defines "occupied" habitat under 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1532(5).
California Red-Legged Frog(Rana aurora draytonii )Critical Habitat
This final revised critical habitat rule for this famous amphibian was published in 71 Fed. Reg. 19243 (April 13, 2006). As with the willow flycatcher example, though the USFWS has conceded improper Julie MacDonald meddling with the best available science for this species, it has not acknowledged the troubling political interference that has brought harm to this species since at least 2001. The 450,288 acres protected by the revised final rule pales in comparison to the 4,138,064 acres in the first revised proposal and the 737,912 in the first revised re-proposed rule. And, in an all too familiar refrain, your agencies have illegally disregarded the Section 4 scientific standard for this frog, ignored the "essential to the conservation" prescription in the species recovery plan, and inflated the costs of critical habitat in many ways including failure to properly assess benefits.
Alameda Whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis euryxanthus)
The final revised rule for this species dramatically reduced earlier final and proposed rules to protect critical habitat. 71 Fed. Reg. 58175 (October 2, 2006). Whereas earlier rules protected over 400,000 and 200,000 acres respectively, the final revised rule in questions protects merely 154,834 acres. This final revised critical habitat rule does not identify all areas essential to the conservation of the species. The Section 4(b)(2) exclusion relies on speculation and draft plans to exaggerate costs of the designation, and fails to properly identify economic and other benefits. The final rule is, thus, unlawful.
Arkansas River Shiner (Notropis girardi) Critical Habitat
The final revised critical habitat for the Arkansas river shiner was reduced to 85,120 acres on 532 river miles from the 199,040 acres on 1,244 river miles in the proposed revision. 70 Fed. Reg. 59807 (October 13, 2005). This final revision eliminated all proposed river segments in New Mexico and Texas. It does not identify all areas essential to the conservation of the species. The Section 4(b)(2) exclusion and analysis relies on speculation to exaggerate costs of the designation, and fails to properly identify economic and other benefits. The final rule is, thus, unlawful.
Please stop by my blog and comment there as well. Especially you Dkos lurkers. I know you are out there and intimidated by Dkos (hehe). My blog is small and little known so comment away.
Once again the link is here, Environmental Progress and Epiphanies
Thanks for reading and commenting. Not sure if calling Congresscritters will help but do stop by and join with the folks at the Center for Biological Diversity...They have a store. Need a cool gift?