2019-06-03 Muldoon’s Misconduct & the NPS

“Did Muldoon herself follow the safety guidelines she was appointed to implement?  Muldoon’s actual track record is a long list and large collection of safety violations, safety problems and safety misconduct.”

 

*     *     *     *     *

 

“Muldoon’s re-appointment to the NPS Safety Leadership Council hardly inspires confidence inside NPS or for visitors to our National Parks.  Under her leadership, the Wilderness at Point Reyes mismanaged toxic materials, some of which are still present on the public beaches at Drakes Estero.    The NPS Director and the senior leadership at the Interior Department need to put a bright light on Superintendent’s record at Point Reyes.  NPS needs more compliance with law, policy and procedures, not a growing stack of violations.   Secretary Bernhard, the new Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Rob Wallace and Acting Director, NPS, Danny Smith need to find out what’s really going on at Point Reyes.”  

https://russianrivertimes.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/editorial-toxic-safety-supervision-in-national-park-service/

russianrivertimes

Editorial: Toxic Safety Supervision in National Park Service

Posted on June 3, 2019by russianrivertimes

Do David Bernhardt, the newly Senate-confirmed Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Rob Wallace, the just-nominated Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, or Danny Smith the Acting Director for National Park Service (NPS) have the slightest clue as to what has been going on at Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS)?  Recent events reveal that they don’t.  Is NPS at Point Reyes working overtime to make certain they never find out?

Muldoon, NPS co-chair of Safety Leadership Council reappointed despite questionable safety track record

In a 28 March 2019 e-mail to all NPS employees, Acting NPS Director Smith re-appointed Cecily Muldoon, Superintendent, PRNS, to a second term on the NPS Safety Leadership Council (SLC) where she will serve as Co-Director.  Initially formed in 2007 by then-NPS Director Mary Bomar, it was implemented under NPS  Executive Order #50, which expressly states,  “We hold that the safety and health of our employees, concessioner employees and other Federal, state and local stakeholders….to be a core value of the NPS.”

The order sets forth that NPS managers across the country must “Meet or exceed all current applicable statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements”.  

Did Muldoon herself follow the safety guidelines she was appointed to implement?  Many of the requirements of the SLC fall under OSHA, (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Department of Labor, EPA and other federal and state agencies, so one might expect that given her position on the Safety Council, that her supervision of PRNS employees and contractors “meets or exceeds”  compliance with law, policy, and procedures.    It doesn’t.   Muldoon’s actual track record is a long list and large collection of safety violations, safety problems and safety misconduct.

Investigation by Cal EPA at Drakes Estero leads to referral of charges to Marin DA for prosecution

For more than two years, the Russian River Times documented a whistleblower’s report of serial failures by NPS and its contractors to comply with NPS safety law, policy and procedures during removal of oyster racks from Drakes Estero (Point Reyes).  The whistleblower, a marine diver, filed a complaint with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) after he received chemical burns from exposure to hazardous wastes while working on the rack removal project.  In mid-2018, DTSC opened an investigation.  Last December, DTSC completed their work concluding that wide-spread mismanagement of toxic materials took place on the NPS project.  The Report, not yet public, was submitted to Lori Frugoli, the Marin County District Attorney.  It recommends prosecution for more than 20 violations of law, some criminal, against the NPS contractors.

Whistleblower recovers back pay and contractor fined by OSHA

Previously, the Russian River Times reported on other violations of law on the same NPS project.   Contract violations, investigated by the US Department of Labor concluded the whistleblower and others were  shorted on pay and that significant safety violations occurred.  That same whistleblower, with assistance from the Foundation for Fair Contracting (FFC), received a settlement restoring his rightful pay.  In addition, in December 2016, shortly after the whistleblower was fired, the contractor on the Drakes Estero Project was fined for OSHA safety violations.

No bid contracts can be “totally non-transparent” and subject to abuse

The FFC’s Bryan Berthiaume recently discussed with the Russian River Times a growing list of problems with no-bid and non-competitive contacts awarded by the Federal Government.  The long list of safety violations at Point Reyes came from a no-bid, non-competitive contract.   Berthiaume also told the RR Times  that his organization is  actively following another scandal involving this same NPS contract.  The California State Contractor’s Licensing Board investigation of the Drake’s Estero rack removal contractor regarding serious violations of personnel requirements for holding their license.  He also stated, generally,  that the proliferation of contracts issued without competitive bidding continues to become a real scandal, and renders much government contracting totally non-transparent.  This has certainly proved the case in the RR Times investigation, which has been unable to trace the handling and fate of some 1300 tons, or approximately 76 truckloads, of contaminated sediment identified in the original NPS engineering Report for this project, despite  repeated requests to NPS.

According to Berthiaume, “ we’re seeing a lot of problems with many case of near total lack of supervision of some contractors, especially in the under $4-5 million range.  Being perceived as a ‘compliant’ contractor on these issues can lead to multiple contract awards and too often becomes ‘the gift of public money that keeps on giving’. While FFC’s work is involved mostly with labor and contracting terms, we see a huge problem on some  contracts with the issuing agencies failure to not only assure compliance with labor law and safety law, but also environmental issues or even basic compliance with contract terms, as is the case in working with the whistleblower in the Drake’s Estero matter.  This is not a partisan issue and it’s going to take Congress having a serious look at how DOI and other agencies really handle their contracts to even start to fix it.”

City of San Francisco complains to Superintendent Muldoon over lack of concern for public safety                                                                                                               

Upholding NPS policy  on public safety also appeared low on Muldoon’s priorities when she was temporary Acting Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area (GGNRA), after she approved a protest permit for a group and its members who were known to be violent  in Portland, Seattle and Charlottesville. In an angry August 15, 2017 letter from then SF Mayor the late Edwin M. Lee, and Supervisor (now Mayor) London Breed,  declared, “This permit has been granted without the necessary contingencies to protect the safety of the public and the assumption that the City of San Francisco will expend our resources to diffuse the situation”.

Safety violations, issues and concerns – a long list of them – are the hallmarks of Muldoon’s management at Point Reyes.  NPS reports on toxics were withheld from the Corps of Engineers and subcontractor employees but not contractors (direct worker notification of the presence of toxics is required by DOL law and OSHA regulations).  Toxic wood waste and sediment were handled in a manner in direct violation of California law, not to mention contract terms.  This allowed substantial time and financial savings for the contractor.  Tons of sediment, which NPS’ own Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) said was contaminated, are unaccounted for.  Complaints about workplace safety violations were ignored.  FOIA requests about safety issues have been ignored, manipulated or not answered.

Real safety and fact-based environmental leadership needed at NPS           

Muldoon’s re-appointment to the NPS Safety Leadership Council hardly inspires confidence inside NPS or for visitors to our National Parks.  Under her leadership, the Wilderness at Point Reyes mismanaged toxic materials, some of which are still present on the public beaches at Drakes Estero.  The NPS Director and the senior leadership at the Interior Department need to put a bright light on Superintendent’s record at Point Reyes.  NPS needs more compliance with law, policy and procedures, not a growing stack of violations.   Secretary Bernhard, the new Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Rob Wallace and Acting Director, NPS, Danny Smith need to find out what’s really going on at Point Reyes.  Senator Murkowski, as Chair, the Senate Energy Committee and Congressman, Raul Grijalva, as Chair, House Natural Resources Committee need to put the same spotlight on NPS adherence to law, policy and procedure.  Point Reyes is a good place to start illuminating the real quality of leadership.

03-18-13 Stewardship Begins With People – where the NPS extolls Kevin Lunny as an ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARD

From the Conservation Study Institute, US Department of the Interior, and with the imprimatur of the National Park Service itself:

STEWARDSHIP BEGINS WITH PEOPLE

An Atlas of Places, People, and Handmade Products

(click on the link below for the full version)

NPSG_999_D1963_full

(I was informed by Leslie Shahi of the Conservation Study Institute on 03/18/13, that the book was never made available as a PDF download because it “was graphic intensive – the size was prohibitive” . I have obtained a scanned PDF of the full version which I have EASILY uploaded above for your benefit, having taken less than 15 seconds to download to my computer and then upload to this blog. If you have any difficulties with the full version, click on the link below for the abbreviated version; it includes all but chapters on other parks.)

NPSG_999_D1963_selected pages

(click on the link below for the currently available WEB ACCESSIBLE VERSION. This version is ONLY 12 PAGES LONG. You can only find it via Google Search, being that it is not available through the NPS Website as all the others are. FURTHERMORE, the CHAPTER ON  POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE is MINUS any reference to Kevin Lunny and Drakes Bay Oyster Co. THE PHOTO OF Dave Evans and Kevin Lunny is included yet  KEVIN LUNNY is AIRBRUSHED OUT !!!

JUST IN! ONE OF MY READERS PROVIDED THIS LINK TO THE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE EDITION. He wrote to me the following: “Oddly, (perhaps by intent) it comes up under the “fs.fed.us” domain, i.e., the Forest Service, not the Park Service.”

http://www.fs.fed.us/sustainableoperations/documents/susops-summit07-SustCommTrack_Part-II.pdf

It is within the FULL VERSION of the ORIGINAL PUBLICATION ONLY where you will find on page 45 not only a photograph of Kevin Lunny but also, the following comments:

 “fourth generation rancher”, who, in this publication, is “recognized for [his] ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP AND INNOVATION….[who] belong[s] to a growing number of West Marin farmers and ranchers COMMITTED TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL STRATEGIES….Lunny has converted his herd to grass-fed and organic production….Lunny’s Drakes Bay Family Farms now operates an oyster farm on Drakes Estero.”

The Introduction states this is “a guide to the work of friends and neighbors of U.S. national parks…who are practicing a stewardship ethic and demonstrating a commitment to sustainability…and the people in this Atlas–and others like them–deserve both recognition and encouragement.”

Other notes and quotes from the publication [EMPHASIS ADDED]:

Stewardshippresents a blueprint foradvancing innovations in collaborative conservation for the stewardship of our national system of parks and other special places” by highlighting successful examples of places, people and businesses long imbedded in national parks and nearby agricultural communities. EACH IS A POSTER EXAMPLE OF SOUND, TIME-HONORED MIXED USE OF PARK LANDS.”

Pages 4, 20, 30 and 32 are particularly poignant and speak to the Park Service’s policy of exploring creative ways to “re-establish a connection — between parks and living cultures; BETWEEN PUBLIC LANDS AND THE STEWARDSHIP OF FARMS and forests; BETWEEN PEOPLE AND THE FOOD THEY EAT; and between park visitors, communities and a more sustainable future.”

The Park Service’s “Stewardship” PROMOTES SMALL, HISTORIC, LOCAL, FAMILY-OWNED, ORGANIC, SUSTAINABLE, EDUCATIONAL, COMMUNITY ENRICHING, JOB CREATING, DIVERSE FOOD PRODUCERS and eloquently reaffirms a sense of place, local cultures, regional identify, distinctiveness and character, AND THE NEED TO ADDRESS THE UNRAVELING OF SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIPS TO THE LAND.

And as it so advocates, the THE PARK SERVICE SPEAKS DIRECTLY TO THE VALIDITY AND VALUE OF CONTINUED MIXED USE OF DRAKES ESTERO BY OUR NATIONAL TREASURE,  Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

Curious though is this, in the center of the first page of the Introduction is a paragraph in bold face type, brown font, that states:

“It is no longer enough to strive for a friendly “coexistence.” All parties need to be more intentional and proactive in defining their mutual interests and crafting new, more cooperative strategies that contribute to some measure of sustainability and long-term conservation.”

Was that a sincere statement or a somewhat ominous portent of what was to follow?

On the Acknowledgements page, second column, first line, you will find the name Don Neubacher, the then superintendent of Point Reyes National Seashore.

The date of the publication is 2007 yet, early in 2007, Neubacher met with Steve Kinsey, President of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. He proudly revealed his “war room” and claimed that Kevin Lunny was an “environmental criminal” and could expect fines and “JAIL TIME” and discussed his newly launched campaign to remove the oyster farm from the seashore.

I called  The Conservation Study Institute at at 802-457-3368 the number given on the inside front cover, and was put through directly to Leslie Shahi at extension 16. Hers is the second name mentioned on page 58 – the Acknowledgments page – for her “much appreciated help with collecting and organizing the variety of images that appear in the Atlas”.

When asked, she  stated  that the publication was never made available as a PDF because it was “graphic intensive, the size was too big”.

I requested 10 copies be sent to me and was informed they were not only free, but there would be no shipping and handling charges either. (Our tax dollars at work!). I was assured they would arrive within three to four days that translates to Friday. I will update this posting at that time and when and if I receive them as well as whether their contents are the same as the originals in my possession – 60 pages including the back inside and outside covers.

We are providing you with an abbreviated version as well as the full version.

For the abbreviated version, we have included the entire book EXCEPT the chapters on other parks to make sure full credit is given to those who deserve credit and citation and to provide pertinent information from the publication for your benefit:

·        Front cover

·        Inside front cover (where permission to share the information is expressly given*)

·        Title page

·        Map

·        Table of contents

·        EBay’s landing photo page

·        Introduction (2 pages)

·        Sue Conley Cowgirl Creamery and other photos page

·        Point Reyes National Seashore (the full chapter – 3 pages)

·        Website References (2 pages)

·        Acknowledgements (see second column first line of that page for mention of Don Neubacher)

·        Photographic Credits (inside back cover)

·        Back cover

 

Express permission is granted on the inside front cover, paragraph three and four:

*”We encourage you to share the information in this publication, and request only that you give appropriate citations. Copyrighted images are not placed in the public domain by their appearance in this document. They cannot be copied or otherwise reproduced EXCEPT IN THEIR PRINTED CONTEXT WITHIN THIS DOCUMENT without the written consent of the copyright holders.

Recommended citation: Diamant, Rolf, et al. Stewardship Begins with People: An Atlas of Places, People, and Handmade Products. Woodstock, VT: Conservation Study Institute, 2007.”

02-21-13 75-page report details misconduct – performance & execution of investigations under Mary Kendall.

02-21-13 “House Natural Resources Committee… released a scathing 75-page report detailing misconduct in the performance and execution of IG investigations under the four-year tenure of “Acting” IG – Mary Kendall….

What is so striking – the categories of issues identified in this House Committee Report (having nothing to do with NPS at Point Reyes) are almost identical to the suite of issues involving NPS science at Drakes Estero – unfinished IG reports, gross errors, glaring omissions, significant misrepresentations, altered data, missing emails – and the list goes on. “

 

This is the story of TWO REPORTS – one from House Natural Resources Committee (just released) AND the second, a new Inspector General’s Report, prepared by the OIG under DOI IG Mary Kendall, on NPS science at Point Reyes/Drakes Estero (released in early February).

 

In a letter to President Obama this past week, House Natural Resources Committee Chair, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), told the President to appoint a permanent Inspector General at the Interior Department and released a scathing 75-page report detailing misconduct in the performance and execution of IG investigations under the four-year tenure of “Acting” IG – Mary Kendall.

 

A few weeks ago, on February 7, 2013 (five months late), OIG Kendall released the results of what was supposed to be a misconduct investigation on NPS Science at Drakes Estero (on false sound data in the NPS DEIS for the DBOC permit extension).  There’s no nice way to say it:  The IG’s report is a white-wash, from start-to-finish.  I won’t go into the details here, but in the coming next few days, the OIG misconduct will be exposed.  A story this past week in the Point Reyes Light only scratched the surface.

 

The House Committee report is posted on the Committee’s web site and can be accessed from the following link:  http://naturalresources.house.gov/uploadedfiles/oversightreportdepartmentofinterior.pdf

 

What is so striking – the categories of issues identified in this House Committee Report (having nothing to do with NPS at Point Reyes) are almost identical to the suite of issues involving NPS science at Drakes Estero – unfinished IG reports, gross errors, glaring omissions, significant misrepresentations, altered data, missing emails – and the list goes on.

 

From the IG’s Report – Selected Examples of Getting it Wrong:

 

*             NPS regulations are crystal clear, the NPS was required – MANDATORILY – to measure the sound from Kevin’s oyster boats, the oyster tumbler and other noise-generating machines.  MEASURE IT.  NPS didn’t bother.  NPS can’t say they didn’t know — the mandatory regulation was in place for more than a decade — since 2001.  Instead, the IG investigators interviewed several NPS officials and NPS contractors, and then quoted them, in their overdue report, explaining (words to the effect), “oh, we don’t do it that way…we use proxy data all the time.”  Armed with an “that’s-the-way-we-do-it” explanation, the IG then effectively concluded, if they do it all the time, it must be okay.  So much for law and policy.  So much for mandatory regulations.  NPS didn’t bother.  The IG didn’t care.

 

*             The Goodman Misconduct Complaint, submitted last April, set forth six major allegations against the NPS.  Kendall and her OIG team didn’t bother to address three of them.   The IG turned their back on half the Goodman complaint.  Another way to look at it – the IG simply “airbrushed” away major elements of the Complaint.

 

*             IG Investigators, Vince Haecker and Trey DeLaPena, told Kevin, when they originally interviewed him, that he would be given an opportunity to “ground truth/fact check” NPS responses.  Kevin never heard from the investigators again.  Lunny requests, several months later, for follow-up meetings went unanswered – ignored.

 

A week ago, within days of the latest IG report giving NPS a clean bill-of-ethical-health, Justice Department lawyers raced to Federal Court, and, citing the IG’s report, told Judges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the Lunny complaints about NPS science were wrong and the oyster farm was causing real environmental impacts.  This is after the Secretary said he wasn’t finalizing the EIS, failed to submit it (as required) to EPA, failed to publish it in the Federal Register, failed to allow a 30-day comment period, failed to produce a Record of Decision (ROD) as set forth, in writing to Kevin and Nancy Lunny in September 2010, and then said, the day he announced he was shutting down the farm – the EIS didn’t matter.

 

If the sound from Kevin’s oyster tumbler was as loud as NPS said it was, as the OIG confirmed as valid and the Department of Justice told the Federal Courts, then the conversation between Kevin and Nancy Lunny and Interior Secretary Salazar (depicted in the photo below could not have taken place) – and would have been drowned out by the noise.  But it wasn’t.

 

 

From the Russian River Times – “On his visit to the oyster farm,  Salazar and Kevin and Nancy Lunny hold a perfectly normal conversation in front of the oyster tumbler. Nancy is holding a sound meter, which was used to measure the levels to compare with the values in the Draft EIS and Final EIS, which were based on ‘imported’ data rather than the actual measurement required by NPS policy.   At the NPS reported sound levels, which would have been clearly audible over a mile away, this conversation would have been impossible. ”

Instead of investigating NPS and their serial misconduct Kendall and the OIG decided to “partner” with NPS.  With the most recent IG’s report, Inspector General Kendall’s integrity was undeniably compromised.  From the just-published House Committee Report, and the examples set forth in it, we now learn that the Interior Department’s ethical problems were not limited to NPS and what continues to unfold at Drakes Estero.

 

The Committee press release is pasted into this email, below.  Articles from Greenwire, “Hastings Faults Acting IG for ‘Accommodating’ Admin, Urges Obama to Appoint Permanent Watchdog,” and THE Hill “Senior House Republican Calls on Obama to Replace ‘Accommodating’ Interior Watchdog.” are also pasted below.

 

 

Press Release

Chairman Hastings Calls for President Obama to Appoint Permanent Inspector General for the Department of the Interior
Committee Staff Report Highlights Mismanagement of IG under Mary Kendall’s Administration

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 21, 2013 – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today wrote to President Obama requesting that he nominate a permanent Inspector General for the Department of the Interior. Since the Department’s previous Inspector General Earl Devaney was appointed to a new position nearly four years ago, the Department’s Office of Inspector General (IG) has been run by Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall, serving in an acting capacity.

Committee staff also released a report today, entitled “Holding Interior Watchdog Accountable,” that details mismanagement by Ms. Kendall while overseeing the IG. These include: not pursuing investigations involving political appointees or Administration priorities; informing senior Department officials of problems without conducting formal investigations and not issuing reports to Congress and the public; not adequately documenting the management of IG investigations and operations; serving in an appointed policy role in conflict with the IG’s investigative duties; preventing an investigator from seeking information from a White House official; and providing inaccurate and misleading information to Congress.

The report also details how Ms. Kendall has openly expressed the desire to receive the nomination to become the permanent Inspector General while administering the IG’s oversight role in a manner that was privately accommodating to senior Department officials and the Obama Administration compared to the IG’s more assertive style in past Administrations.

Click here to read a copy of the letter.

Click here to read a copy of the report.

“There have been too many instances where the Department’s IG office has been mismanaged by Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall, serving as acting Inspector General, and IG Chief of Staff Stephen Hardgrove. For too long, their accommodation of the Department’s leadership have compromised and undermined the professional work of the IG’s career staff. It is time to end the decline in trust that has resulted from their administration of the IG and provide the office with a clear leader empowered with the authority that flows from the permanence and independence of a Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation,” wrote Chairman Hastings in the letter to President Obama. “I urge you to act without further delay to nominate a well-qualified, uncompromised individual to serve as a permanent Inspector General for the Department of the Interior.”

The report examines a number of specific actions and decisions by Ms. Kendall and IG Chief of Staff Hardgrove, several of which have not been publically discussed prior to the release of this Committee staff report:

Not Actively Pursuing Ethics Investigations. The IG on several occasions did not fully investigate allegations of misconduct by the Obama Administration in the same manner and thoroughness as previous Administrations and chose to handle problems informally without issuing public reports or informing Congress. Examples:

 

1) IG Chief of Staff Hardgrove made a unilateral decision not to pursue a complaint filed with the IG’s Office of Whistleblower Protection from a Bureau of Reclamation scientist who believed he was wrongfully terminated for questioning the scientific integrity of the Department’s decision to remove the Klamath River dams

 

2) No ethics review or evaluations were conducted by the IG into Counselor to the Secretary Steve Black’s romantic relationship with a renewable energy lobbyist to determine whether a violation of federal ethics and conflict of interest laws occurred with his work on renewable energy issues for the Department

 

3) The IG did not comprehensively investigate and publicly report on allegations that former BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich may have interfered in the Joint Investigation Team’s Deepwater Horizon investigation for political purposes.

Renewable Energy Study. Despite the extensive work of a team of auditors, Ms. Kendall decided not to finalize a draft study of the Department’s renewable energy program that had critical findings. The IG allowed political appointees at the Department offer extensive edits, reviews and comments to the study and Ms. Kendall made personal edits to the study that softened the report to the point that it caused dispute and disagreement among her own staff.

 

Drilling Moratorium Report Investigation. The IG conducted an investigation into the editing of the Department of the Interior’s Drilling Moratorium Report that made it to appear as though the six-month drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico was supported by engineering experts when it was not. Emails from the IG’s investigators detail how they were not able to obtain all DOI documents that may have been relevant to their investigation, and they were prevented from interviewing Secretary Salazar or White House staff involved in editing the report. There have since been concerns over possible whistleblower retaliation. In addition, Ms. Kendall testified before Congress that she was not involved in the process of developing the Drilling Moratorium Report, yet served on Secretary Salazar’s OCS Safety Oversight board. This conflicting policy role undermined her ability to be impartial in investigating a matter that she had direct knowledge of and involvement with. Ms. Kendall also testified that she had never read the Drilling Moratorium Report, but internal IG documents suggest otherwise.
Background
Ms. Kendall is currently under investigation by the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency for potential conflict of interests and lack of independence related to the Drilling Moratorium Report and subsequent IG investigations.

A bipartisan group of Senators also recently called on President Obama to fill vacant Inspector General positions at six departments, including the Department of the Interior.

###

Contact: Jill Strait or Spencer Pederson 202-226-9019

http://naturalresources.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=320559

 

E&ENews PM 

4. INTERIOR:

Hastings faults acting IG for ‘accommodating’ admin, urges Obama to appoint permanent watchdog

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) today called on President Obama to appoint a permanent inspector general at the Interior Department, arguing that the acting IG has failed to hold the agency and the administration accountable.

Republican committee staff today also released a report arguing that acting IG Mary Kendall since 2009 has taken an “accommodating and cooperative approach” to the post that has undermined the office’s independence. Without being confirmed, Kendall is faced with the awkward task of demanding accountability of the administration while also seeking the president’s nomination, the report notes.

“For too long, their accommodation of the department’s leadership have compromised and undermined the professional work of the IG’s career staff,” Hastings said in a statement. “It is time to end the decline in trust that has resulted from their administration of the IG and provide the office with a clear leader empowered with the authority that flows from the permanence and independence of a presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.”

Hastings last Congress led an investigation into Kendall’s probe of an Interior report that erroneously claimed the agency’s moratorium on deepwater drilling following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was supported by outside engineers. Hastings claimed Kendall oversaw a biased investigation of the report’s editing, which found no conclusive evidence that the mistakes were intentional.

Hastings’ request comes nearly a month after a bipartisan group of 16 senators urged Obama to nominate candidates to fill vacant inspector general posts at six major federal agencies, including Interior (E&E Daily, Jan. 25).

Members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by incoming Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and ranking member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), said IGs’ task of “speaking truth to power” can be especially difficult for acting officials who lack presidential endorsement or Senate confirmation.

An email to the White House this afternoon was not returned by press time.

 
Senior House Republican calls on Obama to replace ‘accommodating’ Interior watchdog

By Zack Colman – 02/21/13 12:10 PM ET

House Natural Resources Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) wants President Obama to replace the acting head of Interior Department’s internal watchdog for being too soft on the White House.

Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall has helmed Interior’s Office of Inspector General for four years. Hastings said in a Thursday letter to Obama that replacing Kendall would remedy an office “in serious need of independent leadership.”

House Natural Resources Republicans have slammed Kendall’s role in reviewing a report that called for a six-month Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling freeze following the 2010 BP oil spill, which the White House implemented.

Hastings said Kendall and her chief of staff, Stephen Hardgrove, have “compromised and undermined” the Interior’s internal watchdog. He labeled their performance as “privately accommodating to senior Department officials and your administration” in an effort for Kendall to nab permanent inspector general position.

The commitee questioned issues beyond the drilling moratorium in a report released Thursday. The report alleges, among other items, that the inspector general dropped a review of renewable energy programs on federal lands that the committee said would have reflected poorly on the administration.

Kris Kolesnik, a spokesman with the Interior Office of Inspector General, said the watchdog could not “meaningfully respond to the selective soliloquy” of the House Natural Resources Committee.

“Anyone interested in the whole story would have to read all the testimony from the August 2, 2012 hearing, talk to all of those that were involved in the matters reported on, and have access to all the documents and interviews made available to the committee staff. The committee’s February 21, 2013 report paints a very biased picture,” Kolesnik said in a Thursday statement.

Hastings and committee Republicans have mainly questioned Kendall’s impartiality in investigating the May 2010 report that called for the drilling moratorium and other drilling-safety measures.

They say internal Interior emails showed Kendall was in meetings to develop the report she later probed.

Kendall has denied she had any part in writing the report. She said she was involved in meetings to get up to speed with deepwater drilling issues.

Republicans and industry opposed the temporary ban, calling it an overreaction to the April 2010 BP oil spill.

Hastings has convened several hearings on the May 2010 report, which has included subpoenas.

Interior has criticized the committee’s tactics, noting it has complied with Hastings’ requests for information and documents related to the report.

— This story was updated at 6:01 p.m.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/284223-senior-house-republican-calls-on-obama-to-replace-accommodating-interior-watchdog#ixzz2LcoNHCoB

 

 

 

 

 

11-27-2012: Regarding the Fatally Flawed Final EIS

The Final EIS is out, Secretary Salazar came to Drakes Estero, and a Secretarial “decision” is slated to be announced later this week.

DBOC reviewed the NPS Final EIS (FEIS) on the DBOC pending permit extension and just submitted comments to the Secretary.  In the very short time available to review this 1000 page document,  the sections on “sound” were reviewed because it was the only environmental impact determined by NPS to be MAJOR if the farm is allowed to continue.  The NPS science in this $2 million EIS is false – it’s just plain wrong.

For the letter to Salazar from DBOC, click the link below:

2012-11-27-DBOC to Sec Salazar

For the Environ Comments Memo on the Final EIS, click the link below:

2012-11-27-ENVIRON DBOC_FEIS_Soundscape_Comments_Memo

For the Stoel (attorney’s) letter to Salazar, click the link below:

2012-11-27-Stoel letter to Sec Salazar

Your attention is directed to the ENVIRON letter and Dr. Goodman’s analysis.

According to ENVIRON:

ENVIRON LETTER.

“The soundscape impact analysis remains fundamentally flawed. It does not offer sufficiently coherent and correct information upon which to base informed decisions regarding noise impacts from the DBOC facility. The FEIS appears to be based more on pursuing a specific, preconceived result than in factually considering noise generated by the DBOC operations and transmission of such noise to other locations.”

 

“NPS has spent time and money developing an equally invalid, slanted, and incomplete assessment.”

 

“DBOC SOURCE NOISE LEVELS ARE STILL GROSSLY EXAGGERATED

The noise analysis reported in the DEIS relied on gross exaggerations of DBOC source noise levels based on misuse of data from measurements of other sources.”

 

NPS’s repeated, unsupported criticisms regarding the quality and utility of the ENVIRON sound level measurements are simply a disappointing attempt to cast doubt where none exists. In lieu of taking actual sound level measurements of the specific equipment whose noise it is attempting to assess, NPS instead opted to criticize but then essentially substantiate and then use the ENVIRON sound level measurement data representing DBOC equipment. At the same time NPS has continued to use an exaggerated range of possible equipment noise levels based on false comparisons with unrepresentative equipment.

08-30-12 Scientific Review of the dEIS

For the complete 2012 National Academy of Sciences review of the scientific review of the Draft Environmental Statement click on the link below:

NAS Review of Review of dEIS 2012 13461

08-07-12 Information Quality Complaint to National Park Service | Cause of Action

Information Quality Complaint to National Park Service | Cause of Action.

On August 7, 2012, a Data Quality Act Complaint was filed with the National Park Service by Dr. Corey Goodman and Kevin and Nancy Lunny, owners, Drakes Bay Oyster Company to make corrections as required by law and policy in the NPS Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the Atkins Final Peer Review (March 2012).
 
NPS must acknowledge the report within 10 days and by statute, respond within 60 days. 

Summary of Complaint

To comply with applicable minimum information-quality standards, all scientific information that NPS disseminates in publications such as the DEIS and Atkins Peer Review Report must be, among other things, accurate and timely; based on the best available science and supporting studies and the most current information available; highly transparent; supported by reliable data, including on-site data when required by law; consistent with sound and accepted scientific practices and policies; evidence-based; reproducible by qualified third parties; and objective and unbiased in terms of both presentation and substance.

NPS can only claim that Alternative A is the “environmentally preferred alternative” because it flagrantly and repeatedly failed to comply with these minimum information-quality standards. Conclusions in the DEIS that DBOC causes “major” long-term adverse impacts on Drakes Estero’s “soundscape” and “wilderness” are based on inaccurate, nontransparent, false, and misleading data and analysis that violates NPS’s information-quality guidelines, as are claims that DBOC causes “moderate” long-term adverse impacts on Drakes Estero’s “harbor seals,” “birds and bird habitat,” and “visitor and recreation experience.”   If the DEIS is corrected to meet basic minimum information-quality standards, it becomes clear that DBOC’s operations do not have long-term adverse impacts on Drakes Estero’s environment.

 
Click on the link above or copy and paste this link into your web browser http://causeofaction.org/2012/08/08/information-quality-complaint-to-national-park-service/.

05-25-12 NAS Evaluation of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit DEIS and Peer Review: Division on Earth and Life Studies

05-25-12 NAS announces assessment of NPS scientific information to begin

An ad hoc committee will assess the scientific information, analysis, and conclusions presented in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit and evaluate whether the peer review of the DEIS conducted by Atkins, North America for the U.S. Department of the Interior, is fundamentally sound and materially sufficient.”

For the full announcement, click on the link below:

Evaluation of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit DEIS and Peer Review: Division on Earth and Life Studies.

03-01-2012 Atkins Review

The DOI paid for a review of the dEIS by Atkins.

The DOI requested an independent peer review of the DEIS (Chapters 3 and 4) to examine the scientific and technical information and scholarly analysis presented in the document

The peer review was limited to the scientific information used in the DEIS.

Atkins was directed to select at least four well-qualified, independent reviewers.

  • Marine Estuarine Ecology and Coastal Zone Management: Dr. Ted Grosholz, University of California – Davis, and Dr. Dianna Padilla, Stony Brook University (1)
  • Water Quality: Dr. Charlie Wisdom, Parametrix (2)
  • Soundscapes: Dr. Christopher Clark, Cornell University (3)
  • Socioeconomics: Dr. James Wilen, University of California – Davis (4)

(1) The reviewers (Grosholz & Padilla) noted several exceptions where conclusions were not reasonable and/or scientifically sound, or other conclusions may be drawn. … The reviewers also point out several instances where statements are made or alluded to without sufficient supporting information…. the DEIS assumes that the expansion of aquaculture activity will increase loss of eelgrass in linear fashion, but there are no data supporting that assumption…. the relative impact of the two oyster culture methods (off-bottom racks versus on-bottom bags) was not consistently applied when assessing the impacts of the alternatives, affecting the DEIS conclusions.

(2) He (Dr. Charlie Wisdom) noted that alternate conclusions (direct adverse effect versus no direct adverse effect) could have been drawn with regard to the potential impacts of leachates from CCA-treated lumber on juvenile coho salmon. The flushing rate of Drakes Estero is likely to be high enough to dilute concentrations below fish thresholds

(3) On March 21, Dr. Christopher Clark, of Cornell of Cornell University, was informed of the falsified data and retracted his support of the dEIS data stating he “does not believe that these activities have a biologically significant impact on wildlife…”

(4) Dr. Wilen found that the DEIS derives qualitative impact assessments with minimal comparative data and undefined criteria, leading to conclusions that are ―vague at best, and misleading at worst‖ (Appendix B).

For the full text of the Atkins review, click the link below

Final_DEIS_Drakes_Bay_SUP_Peer_Review_Report_030112

2011 Oyster Culture, a Publication

For a delightful book with marvelous photos on Oystering in West Marin, please click on the link below:

http://issuu.com/oysterculture/docs/oysterculturebook?mode=window

 

If the image is small when you open it, just double click it and use the full screen option.

12-09-2011 Environ Report on dEIS

Actual study of Drakes Bay Oyster Company Boats and equipment reveals the deception in the dEIS of the NPS.

“ENVIRON International Corporation (ENVIRON) has reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit (ID: 43390), and appreciates this opportunity to report our technical comments to the National Park Service (NPS) in print form. ENVIRON regularly participates in NEPA processes such as this, and respects the effort put forth by the NPS in order to develop this draft document. The purpose of these comments is to assist the NPS in developing a more scientifically accurate and complete final document that is consistent with NEPA and NPS policy.

In general, the structure of the DEIS is unusual in that there is no alternative that represents the proposed action. Neither is there an alternative that represents a continuation of current conditions. In the current structure of the DEIS, the public is left to glean unknown conditions without the Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) as the no action scenario. Consequently, the impacts resulting from conditions under alternatives that depart from this unknown status (Alternative A) are even more difficult to understand. No explanation is provided for this deviation from standard NEPA protocol, and ENVIRON questions the efficacy of this approach. Setting aside the DEIS structure, comments have been developed in several topic areas.
ENVIRON found consistent omissions and mistakes that err in a way that exaggerates potential negative impacts and understates potential positive impacts benefits. NEPA protocol requires the author to apply a net impact analysis – an assessment of both positive and negative impacts. Without this net approach, results could point toward a ‘least negative’ alternative which might in fact be worse for the environment than another option that had more negatives, but more positives that potentially balance out or mitigate for the negative impacts.”

For the full text of the report click the link below:

ENVIRON 2011

11/22/2011 MMC Report and Appendix F

11-22-2011 MMC Drakes Estero Report Mariculture and Harbor Seals in Drakes Estero, California

We recommend you read Appendix F prior to reading the full report which can be summed up by the MMC statement on page iii of the Executive Summary here:

The Marine Mammal Commission believes that the data supporting the … analyses are scant and have been stretched to their limit. Nevertheless, the analyses in Becker et al. (2011) provide some support for the conclusion that harbor seal habitat-use patterns and mariculture activities in Drakes Estero are at least correlated. However, the data and analyses are not sufficient to demonstrate a causal relationship.

Appendix F appendix_f

MMC Report drakes_estero_report

 

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=43390

2011-11-22 Analysis of MMC Report by Dr. Corey Goodman

Briefly, the following three points, as stated by Dr. Corey Goodman, sum up the MMC report.  

1. The NPS data are too thin, and too highly leveraged by a stochastic event in 2003, to be able to support the NPS correlation between harbor seals and oyster activity. Moreover, the NPS data are inadequate for MMC to affirm the NPS claim of a correlation between harbor seals and oyster activity.

2. What was called a long-term displacement OUT of Drakes Estero was actually a short-term displacement INTO Drakes Estero caused by events at Double Point. There is no evidence for long-term spatial displacement of seals and pups OUT of Drakes Estero that can be related to shellfish aquaculture.

3. The MMC mistakes could have been avoided had the MMC proceeded with their original open process rather than the insular closed process they conducted. Open dialogue, open discussion, and open exchange could have helped avoid these mistakes. Unfortunately, the closed process led to a flawed MMC Report.

For the Summary of MMC I and MMC II, click here: Summary of Analysis of MMC Reports I and II.CG&DL

For the Analysis of MMC Report I, click here: Analysis of MMC Report I. acceptance of NPS correlation.CG&DL

For the Analysis of MMC Report II, click here: Analysis of MMC Report II. rejection of Goodman.pdf models.CG&DL

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=43390

12-31-05 Dr. Sarah Allen, Harbor Seal Annual Report 2005

Harbor Seal Report 2005

12-18-2007 Dr. Corey Goodman Letter to NAS

Dr Goodman to NAS 12-18-07

 

01-18-09 Dr. Corey Goodman Letter to NAS

Dr Goodman to NAS 01-18-09The 2009 Nat’l Academies of Sciences Report

03-22-11 Frost Report

Frost report 03-22-2011

10-16-11 Dr. Corey Goodman on the Science Behind the EIS

On October 16, 2011, Dr. Corey Goodman gave a presentation to the community about the science behind the Environmental Impact Statement. The National Park Service was invited to share the podium with Dr. Goodman for an open discussion of the science behind the EIS followed by a Q&A with the audience. Three days before the event the NPS declined the invitation and suggest the public attend their open house meetings instead to follow later that week. 150 attendees were treated to an hour and a half presentation of the science followed by over two hours of Q&A.  A video of Dr. Goodman’s October 16, 2011 talk at the Dance Palace on his analysis of the draft EIS and the Becker 2011 paper have been posted. 

03-31-2011 Volpe Report on Baseline Ambient Sound Levels

03-31-11 Volpe Report:  Baseline Ambient Sound Levels in Point Reyes National Seashore, March 2011, Final Report, United States Department of Transportation.

From the Report Documentation Page
“The …FAA, … is developing Air Tour Management Plans (ATMP) for all national parks with commercial air tours, …. An important area of technical support is the determination of representative baseline ambient sound levels for the study parks. During the summer (July – August 2009) and winter (January – February 2010), the Volpe Center conducted baseline ambient sound level measurements in Point Reyes National Seashore. Approximately one month of acoustical and meteorological data were measured at four sites throughout the park. This document summarizes the results of the noise measurement study.”

From Page 67

“Site PORE004 was located to near the Drakes Estero and Estero Trail in an exposed area with
nearby grasses and brush and a short distance from a bluff overlooking the Estero. ….

The overall median daytime sound level during the summer season was 33.8 dBA and humanrelated
sounds were audible during 17% of the daytime hours. The overall median daytime sound level during the winter season was 35.8 dBA … and human-related sounds were audible during 20% of the daytime hours. The daily sound level graphs demonstrate the influence of wind speed on the sound levels at this site. There was a small increase in audible aircraft overflights during the winter. Rain was much more prevalent in the winter season. There was also a noticeable lack of insect noise during the winter compared
to summer. Birds were audible for most of the daytime during both seasons.”

(emphasis added is mine)

For the complete report, click on the link below:

VOLPE 2011

 

10-18-10 Dr. Corey Goodman on Trust and Accountability in Science

October 18, 2010, Dr. Corey Goodman was invited to speak to the California Council on Science and Technology in their meeting on Trust and Accountability in Science and Technology.

The audio and slides from this presentation are available on YouTube in six 12 minute parts. To begin viewing this presentation click on the link: http://www.youtube.com/Coreysgoodman

01-01-2006 Federal Highway FHWA Roadway Construction Noise Model

NPS tries to equate Highway Heavy Construction Machinery to tools used at Drakes Bay Oyster Farm.

The Roadway Construction Noise Model (RCNM) is the Federal Highway
Administration’s (FHWA) national model for the prediction of construction noise. Due
to the fact that construction is often conducted in close proximity to residences and
businesses, construction noise must be controlled and monitored to avoid impacts on
surrounding communities. In addition to community issues, excessive noise can threaten
a construction project’s progress. Each project needs to balance the community’s need
for peace and quiet with the contractor’s need to progress the work.

Keep in mind, the machinery used at the oyster farm at Drakes Bay Oyster Company are practically like Tinker Toys when compared to the Heavy Duty Highway Construction machinery and trucks evaluated in this report.

For the full text of the Model, please click the link below:

FHWA 2006

09-30-05 Dr. Sarah Allen 7 Year Harbor Seal Study 09/2005

 

7 Year Harbor Seal study by Dr Sarah Allen 2005

10-16-02 Director’s Order 11B – The NPS given authority to Evaluate Itself, Respond to Complaints About Itself, and Decide the Final Outcome

10-16-02 Director’s Order 11B – The NPS is given the authority to Evaluate Itself, Respond to Complaints About Itself, and Decides the Final Outcome

A few excerpts from the Director’s Order:

Section IV Policies and Instructions, sub-paragraph D: Processing Complaints:

The CCU will route complaints they receive to the park or office that disseminated the information and track responses  ….  The disseminating office will evaluate the complaint  …. and notify the complainant as to whether the information has been corrected, deleted, or confirmed to be accurate.

Section IV Policies and Instructions, sub-paragraph G: Appeals Process. 

“…the complainant may appeal to the Director, National Park Service. … The Director, National Park Service, will make a decision on the final appeal ….”

For the full text via Director’s Order 11B.

11-01-1995 Noise Unlimited report on boat noise

NPS removes references to tests of Jet Ski noise at full throttle in a 17 year old study of police jet skis in New Jersey and attempts to pass this off as a study of Drakes Bay Oyster Company motor boats in the dEIS.

September of 1995,  Noise Unlimited was requested by the State of New Jersey, Department of Law and Public Safety Division of State Police, Marine Law Enforcement Bureau, to test and report on the noise levels of boats.

Engines were tested at idle with the microphone 5 feet above the water line and 2 feet behind the transom of the boat as well as at full throttle 50 feet away.

For the full text of their letter to the State of New Jersey, please click below:

Noise Unlimited 1995

02-19-71 DFG letter to Johnson Oyster Co re perpetuating oyster culture

February 19, 1971 Letter from Dept of Fish and Game to Johnson Oyster Co.
From page 2, paragraph 1:

“The National Park Services and the Department of Fish and Game are both interested in perpetuating oyster culture in Drakes Estero. In this regard we will work together in managing the oyster operations within the National Seashore …”

1971 02-19 Ltr DFG to JOC 021971

03-14-66 Letter from Dir of DFG to Sup of PRNS

March 14, 1966 Letter from Director of Department of Fish and Game to Superintendent of Point Reyes National Seashore

From paragraph 2:

“…the legislation transferring the submerged lands at Point Reyes to the Federal Government specifically reserved the fishing rights to the State (AB 1024 (Bagley) Ch. 983, Stats. of 1965).”

1966 03-14 LTR DFG to PRNS 021466


03-02-66, Letter from Dir. of Dept of Fish and Game to Deputy Atty Gen (CA)

March 2, 1966, Letter from Director of Department of Fish and Game to Deputy Attorney General(CA)

From paragraph 2:

“…the law transferring the submerged lands to the Federal Government specifically reserved the fishing rights to the State.”

1966 03-02 LTR DFG to Attorney General 030266

09-30-1965 Attorney General Opinion – Oysters are “fish”

09-30-1965 Attorney General, State of Ca, opinion in response to Director of the Department of Fish and Game

“Oysters and shellfish are ‘fish’……”

1965 09-30 AG opinion


07-09-65 Assembly Bill 1024 Reservation to the people the right to fish

July 9, 1965 Assembly Bill 1024

Chapter 983, Sec 3:

“There is hereby reserved to the people of the state the right to fish in the waters underlying the lands described in Section 1.”

1965 07-09 Assembly Bill 1024 Chp 983 070965

11-13-63 DOI, NPS, PRNS letter to DFG CA Oyster Company should be allowed to continue

November 13, 1963

From page 1, paragraph 2:

“The legislative history of the Act establishing the Point Reyes National Seashore, the Act of Septermber 13, 1962 (76 Stat. 538), provides that the oyster company on Drakes Estero should be allowed to continue in business.”

1963 11-13 Ltr PRNS to DFG 111363

02-28-1961 Land Use Survey

This is the Land Use Survey that accompanied the Economic Feasibility Report of the Proposed Point Reyes National Seashore.

From the Introduction, page 1 paragraph 2:

“Included in the proposal are provisions for the continued operation of most of the dairy ranches, suggestions for expansion of commercial fisheries to furnish recreation opportunities commensurate with the purposes of the seashore proposal, and continuance of the oyster industry in Drakes Bay…”

1961 02-61 Land use Survey

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