[env-trinity] PEER News Release 8-31-10

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Aug 31 11:07:43 PDT 2010

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility News Release


For Immediate Release: August 31, 2010

Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337




Draft Would Punish Scientists But Not Protect Against Political Manipulation



Washington, DC - Seeking to rehabilitate its tattered reputation, the U.S.
Interior Department today proposed rules to improve the accuracy and
integrity of its scientific work. Disturbingly, the proposal ignores
political manipulation of science and instead focuses on punitive measures
against scientific specialists, according to Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility (PEER). 


A report issued this year by its Office of Inspector General (IG) faulted
Interior for lacking any policy to ensure the integrity of its scientific
work. The proposed rules published today in the Federal Register would
subject Interior scientists to discipline for actions such as falsification
of data, disclosure of proprietary data and avoidance of conflicts of
interest. Significantly, the rules do not apply to agency managers or bar
alteration of scientific reports by non-scientists for political reasons. 


"The scientists within Interior are not the ones rewriting documents
inappropriately. Scientific misconduct stems from Interior's political
appointees and hand-picked senior managers but these folks are not covered
by the policy," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to a
recent Government Accountability Office report that found Interior managers
short-circuiting environmental reviews of offshore drilling in its Alaska
office. "Interior's approach to scientific integrity in essence penalizes
the victims and gives a free ride to the perpetrators." 


In the Gulf of Mexico, Interior managers waived environmental and safety
reviews on the BP Deepwater Horizon rig and signed off on a shoddy spill
response plan that listed walruses and seals as local wildlife, among other
absurdities. This spring, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and top aides
overlooked scientific warnings about the risk of oil spills and the lack of
response capacity before approving a major expansion of offshore drilling,
just days before the disastrous BP explosion and spill. 


"Interior's performance in the Gulf raised a host of troubling questions -
all of which this proposal avoids," added Ruch, noting that agency
scientists are already subject to discipline and negative performance
reviews for scientific deviations and errors. "Reform at Interior needs to
start at the top." 


The draft Interior policy also appears at odds with a directive issued by
President Obama in March 2009 that agencies work with the White House to
develop policies providing transparency and peer review to technical work,
protecting scientific data from being "compromised" and extending
whistleblower protection to scientists. The Interior draft rules contain
none of these key elements. 


The proposed rules are subject to a 20-day public comment period. 






See the draft Interior scientific integrity policy 


Look at the Interior Inspector General report 


View the orphaned Obama scientific integrity plan 



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax

415 519 4810 mobile

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 




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