12-05-12 Investors Business Daily, Closed:
The federal government wants California’s biggest oyster farm to shut down. Not because it’s broken the law or is irredeemably dirty. Washington just wants it to go away.
Last week, one day before the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s 40-year-lease expired, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar himself told the company that the deal was not going to be renewed. He gave the business 90 days to clear out of the Point Reyes National Seashore estuary in west Marin County.
The oyster company operates on about 1,100 acres of a 2,700-acre plot that Washington wants to return to nature. Salazar, who toured Point Reyes two weeks ago, could have renewed the lease for 10 years.
But pressure from radical environmentalists was too strong. So yet again, humans — at least 30 will lose their livelihoods — yield to someone’s definition of the ideal.
If ever there was a business that environmentalists should have supported, it was the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. By all reliable accounts, it was a clean, sustainable source of food for nearly 80 years.
One local told the San Francisco Chronicle the farm provided “a good organic food source in our backyard.”
“A department head in Washington, D.C., shouldn’t be able to tell this community it can’t eat oysters,” said Sarah Cane of San Rafael.
Another local, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, was also upset by Salazar’s decision. She strongly implied the fix was in. The federal review process was flawed, she said, “with false and misleading science, which was also used in the environmental impact statement.”
In a November editorial, the Marin Independent Journal, which endorsed only Democrats in the fall elections, agreed that the parks service used “bad science and heavy-handed tactics to make its case.”
A Marin County resident who said at one time she didn’t know which side to believe in the ongoing tension between Drakes and the government finally determined that the “National Park Service as well as the Department of the Interior — were not telling the truth.”
She also blogged that she had become “outraged by the injustice, the abuse of power and the disregard for the ordinary person and the small-business owner.”
This isn’t just a local problem. It has national impact.
If a militant federal bureaucracy and fanatical private groups can team up to shut down a business for environmental reasons in an already pristine estuary, then there’s not much outside of their reach. Rather than government by the people, we have government by bullies.