05-30-2013 Pacific Shellfish Growers Assn Files Data Quality Act complaint with NPS

New Data Quality Act (DQA) Complaint Filed With National Park Service On NPS Science in the EIS prepared for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company by Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA, based in Seattle, WA), May 30, 2013


Complaint filed pursuant to October 16, 2002, “NPS Director’s Order # 11(B), Ensuring Quality of Information Disseminated by the National Park Service.”

For the full complaint click on the link here:

PSGA Complaint Ltr Drakes Bay Oyster Co.053013


According to the Complaint

*          “Despite numerous rounds of peer review and public comment that included significant and well-reasoned criticism of the science and analysis used by NPS in evaluating the environmental effects of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company project, the FEIS fails to address many of the same flaws in its analysis that have been criticized for years by peer reviewers, State legislators, other public agencies, and renowned scientists.  In the EIS, NPS selectively chooses certain data and studies to emphasize potential negative impacts associated with shellfish cultivation, while ignoring or downplaying any science establishing the beneficial impacts of shellfish cultivation, despite the fact that numerous comment letters submitted during the DEIS comment period referenced and described such scientific data and studies.”  Page 2.



*          “The EIS is Not Objective and Presented in an Unbiased Manner, and Is Not Based on Accurate Information.”  Page 5.


On Boat Scarring

*          “The EIS analysis of eelgrass impacts from propeller wash is similarly mischaracterized.”  Page 6.


On Rack and Bag Structures

*          “The EIS also misrepresents the scientific data that it claims establishes that shellfish structures have a negative impact on eelgrass.”  Page 8.


On Eelgrass

*          “The drastic overstating of oyster impacts on eelgrass and understating and mischaracterizing  the beneficial impacts of oysters on eelgrass evidences biased scientific analysis that fails to be objective in accordance with NPS standards.”  Page 10.


On Manipulating Science

*          “In a candid acknowledgement that NPS is placing policy over science, the EIS refutes this evidence by stating that ‘this approach [bottom bag cultivation] is not consistent with NPS Management Policies.’ This is not a response to the environmental impact of the project;  it is merely a dismissal of the science as not conforming to NPS’ objectives and message.”  Page 11-12.


On Fish

*          “EIS Statements That Shellfish Operations Result in an Adverse Impact to Fish Are Not Based on Reliable Scientific Data and Lack Objectivity.  Page 14.


*          “…the EIS fails to meet NPS standards for objectivity and provides inaccurate portrayals and analysis of the underlying scientific data.”  Page 15.


On Birds

*          “Statements that DBOC operations adversely impact birds and bird habitat through noise disturbances generated by boats and displacement of natural bird habitats lack objectivity.”  Page 16.


*          “…the EIS ignores a significant amount of scientific literature referenced in the DEIS comment letters establishing the benefits of shellfish aquaculture for many bird species, including providing food and shelter from predators.  This selective analysis of scientific data does not meet NPS standards for objectivity.”  Page 17.


On Water Quality

*          “…the EIS downplays the impact that shellfish have as filter feeders to improve water quality.”  Page 18.


*          “The EIS reveals its negative bias in its evaluation of water quality.”  Page 18.

On Harm to Shellfish Growers Beyond Drakes Estero

*          “…the EIS will have a damaging effect on the entire West Coast Shellfish farming community, and negative consequences for all of the nation’s shellfish growers.”  Page 21.


*          “…PCSGA’s members will be harmed because the EIS gives legitimacy to the flawed methodology, analysis and conclusions herein.” Page 21


*          “the mischaracterizations and inaccurate and biased analysis in the EIS must be corrected and rescinded to avoid other agencies from relying on such analysis, thereby multiplying the harm of the analysis exponentially. “  Page 22.


Overall Conclusion

*          “Given that the EIS acknowledges that the Drakes Estero is a pristine environment with a thriving ecosystem, has an expanding eelgrass population, and high water quality, the presumption that eliminating existing shellfish operations that have coexisted with the ecosystem for decades would be beneficial, without scientific data to rebut the empirical evidence to the contrary is simply bad science.  It therefore fails to comport with NPS and NPS data quality requirements.”  Page 20.


Note on the Data Quality Act

*          The DQA was enacted into law in December 2000.


*          The DQA directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue government-wide guidelines that “provide policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal agencies”.


*        NPS implemented the DQA with the adoption of NPS Director’s Order #11B in 2002 which stated, in part: 

—       A. Reliable Data. The National Park Service will ensure that information it releases will be developed from reliable data sources and will otherwise ensure information quality at each stage of information development. The NPS’s methods for producing quality information will be made transparent, to the maximum extent practicable, through accurate documentation, use of appropriate internal and external review procedures, consultation with experts and users, and verification of the quality of the information disseminated to the public. The NPS will also keep users informed about corrections and revisions.

—          Information will be developed only from reliable data sources based on accepted practices and policies utilizing accepted methods for information collection and verification. It will be reproducible to the extent possible. Influential information will be produced with a high degree of transparency about data and methods. The information should include all pertinent information to allow the public to understand the park’s legislative authorities, mission, activities, organization, strategic plan, performance plan, and performance accomplishments.

The full DQA Complaint is attached, PDF (above).


Per regulation, NPS must respond within 60 calendar days. 


This is the fifth DQA filed against NPS Science at Drakes Estero since 2007 and the second DQA filed by PCSGA (first was declared “moot” by then-NPS Regional Director, Jon Jarvis).  Two, filed by the Point Reyes Light, were simply ignored.  Two were declared moot. 


When filed, PCSGA included several attachments, not provided here, but included PCSGA comments on the DEIS, NAS Peer Review Comments (prepared by Congressional direction) and comments from ENVIRON, the consulting firm that, on DBOC’s behalf, evaluated the DEIS and especially the soundscape sections.

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