In New Court Filing, Drakes Bay Oyster Company Argues Courts Must Have Jurisdiction to Ensure Integrity of Federal Agency Decisions
“Representatives of the United States of America Should Tell the Truth”
INVERNESS, CALIF. — Drakes Bay Oyster Farm filed a brief this week in the Ninth Circuit arguing that en banc rehearing should be granted to correct the majority’s conclusion that courts “lack jurisdiction” to review whether agencies are telling the truth.
“Representatives of the United States of America should tell the truth, whether they are making permit decisions or representations to this Court,” the brief argues.
In this case, the Department of Interior (through the Park Service) asserted that the farm causes serious adverse impacts to seals—even though the Government’s own expert had concluded that there is “no evidence” the farm disturbs the seals. (In fact, it was a great year for the seals in Drakes Estero, with one of the highest pupping counts ever, according to the Park Service, as reported here: http://www.sfnps.org/download_product/4301/0.)
Furthermore, the Department of Justice argued, both at oral argument and in its brief opposing en banc rehearing in the Ninth Circuit, that Secretary Salazar was “fully aware” of the fact that Interior had misrepresented the findings of its own expert—findings that did not come to light until after Secretary Salazar made his decision to deny the farm its permit.
The Department of Justice is arguing that the court can disregard these false statements, claiming the court does not have jurisdiction to review whether agencies are telling the truth. The majority opinion issued in September agreed with this view. The oyster farm, and the dissenting judge, disagree. The brief filed today argues that en banc rehearing should be granted to correct the majority’s conclusion that courts “lack jurisdiction” to review whether the decisions of federal agencies are based on facts or on falsehoods.
The brief and accompanying papers can be found on the Ninth Circuit website here: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/2013/12/31/13-15227_motion.pdf.
About Drakes Bay Oyster Company
The historic oyster farm in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the community for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyes ranching family, purchased the oyster farm in 2004. Modern environmentalists and proponents of sustainable agriculture praise Drakes Bay Oyster as a superb example of how people can produce high-quality food in harmony with the environment. The farm produces approximately one third of all oysters grown in California, and employs 30 members of the community. The Lunnys also contribute the oyster shells that make possible the restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay and the oyster shells used to create habitat for the endangered Snowy Plover and Least Tern. As the last oyster cannery in California, Drakes Bay is the only local (and thus the only safe and affordable) source of these shells. The Lunny family is proud of its contributions to a sustainable food model that conserves and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com.