Just north of San Francisco lies Drakes Estero, where Indians traditionally harvested shellfish and which for nearly a century functioned as a commercial oyster farm, yielding some 500,000 pounds of meat annually while providing income to the farmers who worked there, with zero negative environmental impact. That all changed under the Obama administration.
In their latest success story, Obama's Department of the Interior worked with preservationists to shut it down, and they did so by deliberately "cooking" the books - altering scientific evidence to support their political goals.
The idea that Lunny's farm was a heavy industry that imperiled the park's wildlife was, for a while at least, the core reason for evicting him. But for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the only agency with the power to enforce full wilderness protection, there was one problem with this argument: proving it.
To the bewilderment and eventual outrage of Lunny's advocates in California and Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein chief among them—the DOI and its National Park Service spent much of the past decade using scientifically unsound, and at times bizarre, tactics to prove the oyster farm had to go. "The Park Service has falsified and misrepresented data, hidden science and even promoted employees who knew about the falsehoods, all in an effort to advance a predetermined outcome against the oyster farm," Feinstein wrote to then-secretary of the interior Ken Salazar in March 2012. "It is my belief that the case against Drakes Bay Oyster Company is deceptive and potentially fraudulent.”
After Lunny accepted some legal aid from a libertarian group in Washington, D.C., the rhetoric from environmentalists turned apocalyptic. Amid howls of Koch brothers lurking and baby seals dying, the oyster farm’s request for a 10-year lease extension was described as “a precedent-setting land-grab effort” and a step toward privatizing the entire National Park System. In the face of this escalation, Feinstein’s coalition drew in Republican congressmen, former California lawmakers and dissenting Bay Area progressives, including the chef Alice Waters and the writer Michael Pollan.
When the conflict between the Park Service and the Lunny family first erupted in 2007, the Marin County Board of Supervisors reached out to two people: Feinstein and Corey Goodman, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member and a former University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford biology professor who lives near Point Reyes. They discovered a Park Service outpost whose scientists had published dubious environmental reports that, for example, erroneously attributed one seal colony’s 80 percent decline to the oyster farm. The disappearing seals, Goodman later learned, had merely relocated closer to the farm.
Feinstein called on the NAS to conduct an external review of the Park Service’s environmental studies. The resulting report concluded that Park Service scientists, in setting out to prove the farm was causing environmental harm, had "selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information" and “exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation."
Yes, the usual dog-whistles were involved: the evil Koch brothers, dead baby seals; you name it, the preservationists used it. Perhaps the most amazing thing about all of this is that even devout Leftist Feinstein recognized the value of the operation, both in terms of jobs at the farm itself and in the larger community, at restaurants and grocers. She deplored the manipulation of scientific evidence for political gain, odd as that may seem to most conservative observers. And yet, even the high-powered Senator, backed with expert scientific perspective, was unable to alter the political goal, and the DOI shut the operation down.
Not only that, they promoted the individuals responsible for the manipulations, although one has since left the agency:
Since 2007, three Park Service employees that Frost charged with scholarly or administrative misconduct have been promoted within the agency. The USGS and DOI declined to comment on this story. U.S. Representative Jared Huffman, whose 2nd congressional district includes Point Reyes (and whose office has had copies of Stewart’s reports since May 2013), also declined comment on this story, as did Marcia McNutt, who served as USGS director from 2009 to 2013 and is now editor-in-chief of the journal Science.
There's a reason why I've not renewed my subscription to that journal. People who believe in manipulating data to achieve political ends are never to be trusted.