Assistant Interior Secretary Caught Rewriting Endangered Species Science

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that high-ranking political appointees within the Department of the Interior have rewritten numerous scientific documents to prevent the protection of several highly imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act. Click link below to read the Washington Post story. This latest example of the abuse of science centers on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald, a civil engineer with no biological training, personally changed scientific conclusions and ordered the agency to refrain from protecting several species under the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act requires the FWS to use the best available science when making decisions regarding what species should be protected under the Act. The documents showing MacDonald's edits and edicts were obtained by several conservation organizations through the Freedom of Information Act. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) brought the documents to the Washington Post in the context of the greater issue of political interference in science. Click link below for a summary of the issue and to view the documents. Through this effort, we have already achieved a notable success: Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) has indicated that he will hold oversight hearings regarding this matter should his party take control of Congress after next week's elections. But we're aiming even higher: we're asking new Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to take concrete steps to restore scientific integrity to the agency. Please write a letter to the Washington Post responding to yesterday's article. You may also send your letter to one of the other newspapers (listed below) that picked up the story. SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS Below are a few suggested talking points. Be sure, however, to use your own words and make your letter both personal and local. Try to keep your letter-to-the-editor to about 200 words. New Interior Secretary Kempthorne should immediately withdraw the decisions on species where political interference in science has occurred and allow a new scientific review to take place. Furthermore, to address the larger systemic pattern of interference with science at FWS, Secretary Kempthorne should: • create explicit policies that reinforce a culture of scientific openness, allow FWS biologists to do their jobs, and punish political appointees and others at the agency who interfere with science; • ensure that Endangered Species Act decisions are based on the best available science and improve the transparency of and public disclosure of the Endangered Species Act determination process; and • make adequate resources available to FWS to allow appropriate, science-based Endangered Species Act decisions. To be most effective, your letter should be received by Friday, November 3, 2006. When you have finished, please send a copy of your letter to [email protected]. Thank you for all you do to defend science from political interference. Sincerely, Dr. Francesca Grifo Senior Scientist and Director UCS Scientific Integrity Program P.S. The article has also appeared in the following newspapers. You can also consider submitting your letter to one of these publications: Contra Costa Times Denver Post Houston Chronicle Myrtle Beach Sun News Rocky Mountain News Salt Lake Tribune Seattle Times If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Scientific Integrity Network. This message was sent to [email protected]. Visit your subscription management page to update your personal profile. From this page you can change your email address, mailing address, name, congressional districts, email format preference, or add or remove yourself from various UCS newsletters, networks, and mailing lists. To stop receiving UCS Restoring Scientific Integrity emails, click to unsubscribe. The Union of Concerned Scientists relies on individuals like you to support our research and advocacy. Join us to promote practical, science-based environmental and security solutions. We are committed to protecting your privacy, your email address will NEVER be sold or exchanged.