4-29-15 We didn’t get our day in court however, we exposed the fraud, conspiracy and scientific misconduct of the PRNS, NPS, and DOI

Oyster Farmer: ‘We Are Terrified’ Of The Gov’t
Photo of Michael Bastasch
MICHAEL BASTASCH
4:53 PM 04/29/2015
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The National Park Service used falsified data to shut down an 80-year-old oyster company in Point Reyes, Calif, its owner claims.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company operated in Point Reyes for decades until National Park Service officials used falsified data to force Kevin Lunny’s family-run oyster farm to shut down. The experience has left its mark on Lunny: “We Are Terrified,” he told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday.

“Let me be clear, we did not fail as a business,” Lunny said in his prepared testimony. “This was not bad luck. Rather, the Park Service engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes.”

Lunny made this statement in response to a question by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador asking whether or not Lunny felt like there could be consequences from his testimony against the National Parks Service.

Even Democratic California Rep. Jared Huffman admitted that in the rush to get rid of industry from Point Reyes, government officials and environmentalists “overstated” evidence that Lunny’s farm was harming the environment.

“No one has apologized,” Lunny said.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company is located in Northern California’s Point Reyes National Seashore, where it has been for decades. Point Reyes isn’t your typical national park because it was created to preserve the historic coastline where people have been settled since the Gold Rush. It was never intended to be a major tourist attraction like Yellowstone.

For decades the Park Service had a good relationship with the oyster company, but that all changed in the mid-2000s. All of the sudden, NPS officials started blaming the company for an 80 percent decline in the local harbor seal population. Officials also blamed Lunny’s farm for upsetting the ecological balance of Drakes Estero.
But all of these accusations against Drakes Bay Oyster Company turned out to be completely false. The National Parks Service lacked any scientific data to back up its claims that the company was killing seals and hurting the local environment. In fact, studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey and the California State Health Department showed the Parks Service was completely wrong.

NPS, however, didn’t stop there and kept making false claims against the oyster company.

“The Park Service misrepresented that study,” Lunny said. “They instead attempted to demonstrate harm by substituting data from a sixty-year-old study conducted at the Sea of Japan and attributing it to our farm.”

“For example, in assessing the noise impact of our small outboard motor boats, the Park Service, rather than measuring our boats on our soundscape [as required], instead used the measurements from a seventy-horsepower, 700cc Kawasaki jet ski in New Jersey,” Lunny added.

Lunny appealed to higher ups at the National Park Service for help in the matter and to correct the record on false statements made by the agency, but he got no help from the government.

“The local Park Service staff were not willing to correct the false claims, so we went to the Regional Director,” Lunny said. “No help there. Then we went to the Park Service Director, and finally the Secretary of Interior. No one, at any level, was willing to admit that false science was being used against us, or to at least correct the record and stop the false accusations.”

The Interior Department’s own inspector general even found misconduct by agency officials and that they misrepresented facts. But even so, the inspector general was powerless to stop Parks Service officials from attacking Lunny’s business.

Eventually, Drakes Bay Oyster Farm closed its doors because of the litigation and regulatory actions taken by the federal government.

“What the Park Service did to our family was unconscionable,” Lunny said. “This polluted legacy of false science has tainted our dealings with state and federal agencies, and has resulted in unnecessary regulatory and legal action against our family and our farm.”

11-09-2012 WITHOUT HAVING READ THE COMPLAINT, Genl Counsel for Marine Mammal Commission quoted in press “…ALLEGATIONS ARE ‘PROBABLY NOT TRUE’”

November 9, 2012             

From:  Dr. Corey S. Goodman

To: Todd J. Zinser, Inspector General, Department of Commerce

“….In an article in the November 8, 2012 issue of the The West Marin Citizen (a local weekly newspaper in the West Marin community), entitled “Misconduct charged in Marine Mammal Commission report” and written by Lynn Axelrod, Mike Gosliner, General Counsel, MMC, is quoted from an exchange on November 7 as follows:

He (Gosliner) said ‘…. The allegations are probably not true or have a good alternative explanation.”’….

….Mr. Gosliner quoted from the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding between the MMC and the DOC OIG. 

…. I quoted from the March 29, 2011 MMC Scientific Integrity Policy sent by Dr. Ragen to Dr. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), White House, in response to Dr. Holdren’s directive to all federal departments and agencies for such a policy.  Dr. Ragen’s 2011 letter to Dr. Holdren stated:

…., Mr. Gosliner should not be involved in this investigation.  He admitted that he had little time to read the complaint, but nevertheless told the press that the allegations are “probably not true.”  He also said that the complaint concerned scientific misconduct, when the complaint was filed primarily concerning “misconduct” and “deception.”  Much of the complaint involves the violation of laws, policies, guidelines, and regulations, and deceptive statements to the public and elected officials, and does not involve science per se (that is largely relegated to the appendix).   

In conclusion, I stand by my complaint filed with you on November 7, and remain convinced that neither Executive Director Dr. Ragen, Chair Dr. Boness, or General Counsel Mr. Gosliner should be involved in any way in investigating these allegations.”

For the original letter, click the link below:

CSG to Zinser 11_09_12 response to MMC

11-09-2012 Greenwire: Still no EIS as deadline looms

Now, with only three weeks to go, the Interior Department appears to be in a tight spot. Salazar has the option of granting the farm a new 10-year lease, using the Park Service’s EIS to inform his decision.
The draft EIS found that the farm’s continued operations would negatively affect the surrounding environment. But it suffered substantial criticism for its findings — including a particularly critical report from the National Academy of Sciences — and the final EIS is nowhere to be found.
8. INTERIOR:
Still no EIS on embattled Calif. oyster farm as deadline looms for decision
Emily Yehle, E&E reporter
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
The National Park Service has not yet issued its final environmental impact statement on a California oyster farm, leaving less than the mandated 30-day review period before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar must decide whether to allow the farm to stay in a potential wilderness area.
Drakes Bay Oyster Co. has been at the center of a roiling controversy for years over its location in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The farm has operated there for more than 70 years, but its 40-year lease with the Park Service is up Nov. 30 (Greenwire, Sept. 13).
Now, with only three weeks to go, the Interior Department appears to be in a tight spot. Salazar has the option of granting the farm a new 10-year lease, using the Park Service’s EIS to inform his decision.
The draft EIS found that the farm’s continued operations would negatively affect the surrounding environment. But it suffered substantial criticism for its findings — including a particularly critical report from the National Academy of Sciences — and the final EIS is nowhere to be found.
Under National Environmental Policy Act guidelines, an agency cannot make a decision on the proposed action until 30 days after the final EIS is released. As of today, 21 days remain until the farm’s lease expires.
But the rules are complicated by the fact that the Park Service could let the farm’s lease expire without making any decision. The farm’s owners have also argued that Salazar doesn’t need to wait for the EIS to issue a new lease.
Ryan Waterman, the farm’s attorney, wrote a letter to Salazar earlier this month arguing that Congress inserted a “general repealing clause” in the 2009 spending bill that authorized the new 10-year lease, allowing Interior to override other conflicting laws including NEPA.
“NPS’s struggle to prepare a legally adequate FEIS for your consideration has been overtaken by the passage of time,” Waterman wrote. “Despite the NPS failure to provide you with a legally adequate FEIS, Section 124 permits you to issue a SUP with the same terms and conditions as the existing authorization.”
Interior spokesman Blake Androff declined to comment on the legal implications of a late EIS, but he indicated that Salazar could still decide either way.
“The matter remains under review, and the Secretary expects to issue a decision in the coming weeks,” he said in an email. “The National Park Service engaged in a public process to collect additional information in an inclusive and transparent manner. This public input will help to inform the Secretary’s decision.”
It is no surprise that the Park Service is late in issuing a final EIS, after the National Academy of Sciences issued a report in August recommending significant changes. The NAS panel found that a lack of evidence made the conclusions in the draft EIS significantly uncertain (Greenwire, Aug. 30).
The panel also criticized the Park Service for using two baselines — one for the “no action” alternative of allowing the farm’s lease to expire, and another for the three “action” alternatives of issuing a new lease.
In other words, the Park Service compared the continued operation of the farm to a theoretical situation where the farm does not exist — and it compared the closing of the farm to the current environmental situation. That made it impossible to compare the effect of the farm’s closure to the effect of its continued operation.
Citing such criticism, the oyster farm has demanded that the Park Service redo the draft EIS altogether (Greenwire, Sept. 18).
 

11-07-2012 Marine Mammal Commission Report on Drakes Estero Tainted By NPS-MMC Misconduct

Marine Mammal Commission Report on Drakes Estero Tainted By NPS-MMC Misconduct  — NPS Effectively “Investigated Itself” with MMC Assistance — EIS Compromised — Complaint Filed with Commerce Department OIG 

“In summary, Dr. Ragen’s conduct was inappropriate and unethical. NPS employees were equally inappropriate, complicit, and active participants throughout a MMC review process that was anything but transparent, inclusive, and independent.  Dr. Ragen established a public process with a veneer of fairness, balance, and independence, while his private activities subordinated that independence to the very entity being investigated and reviewed – the National Park Service.”

From: Corey Goodman <corey.goodman@me.com>

Subject: filing of misconduct complaint with DOC OIG

Date: November 7, 2012 10:29:26 AM PST

November 7, 2012

From:  Dr. Corey S. Goodman

To: Todd J. Zinser, Inspector General, Department of Commerce

Re: Request that DOC OIG investigate allegations that Marine Mammal Commission Exec. Director Dr. Timothy Ragen, in the review and release, and later private reversal of the key conclusion, of his MMC Report on “Mariculture and Harbor Seals in Drakes Estero, California,” violated MMC policies, FOIA, and the MMC Scientific Integrity Policy

Dear Inspector General Zinser,

I request that the Department of Commerce Office of the Inspector General (DOC OIG), initiate an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Dr. Timothy Ragen, Executive Director, Marine Mammal Commission (MMC).  The complaint presented below alleges that Dr. Ragen violated MMC policies, rules, and guidelines, the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the MMC Scientific Integrity Policy.  This complaint alleges:

  • Publicly Dr. Ragen claimed to be transparent, inclusive, and to provide equal access, and to be independent, unbiased, and without conflict, but
  • Privately Dr. Ragen was secretive, exclusive, dependent upon NPS, biased, and conflicted, and gave NPS inappropriate access, and veto power including
    • Access to documents not provided to other parties,
    • Ability to critique work of other parties without disclosure or comment, and
    • Power to not respond to questions and not participate in open discussions.

As a result of Dr. Ragen’s inappropriate actions, the MMC Report was:

  • Not an independent review of NPS science as claimed by MMC, and
  • Not a legitimate independent peer review of the draft EIS as claimed by NPS.

Dr. Ragen deceived the public, the press, elected officials, and all parties involved by privately allowing NPS to review itself, while publicly claiming that the MMC Report represented an independent review of the NPS science.

Dr. Ragen espoused the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and equal access.  He wrote of open discussion, open dialogue, and open exchange. Dr. Ragen failed on every one of those principles.  He failed the MMC.  He failed our community.

Dr. Ragen failed to disclose the inappropriate access relationship granted to NPS.  Dr. Ragen was not transparent.  Dr. Ragen was exclusive, not inclusive.  Dr. Ragen granted special access, not equal access.  Dr. Ragen went to great lengths not to disclose his private bias – apparently breaking FOIA regulations by withholding key communications.

Dr. Ragen allowed the NPS to assert that the MMC Report served as an independent peer review of the NPS harbor seal section of the DEIS when it was anything but independent.  That assertion allowed NPS to omit the harbor seal section of the DEIS from the Atkins Peer Review Report, thereby eliminating the possibility that Atkins scientists would find fault with that section.  By his actions, Dr. Ragen empowered the NPS to secretly review itself, and to deceive the public.

In summary, Dr. Ragen’s conduct was inappropriate and unethical. NPS employees were equally inappropriate, complicit, and active participants throughout a MMC review process that was anything but transparent, inclusive, and independent.  Dr. Ragen established a public process with a veneer of fairness, balance, and independence, while his private activities subordinated that independence to the very entity being investigated and reviewed – the National Park Service.

Five specific allegations are presented here concerning Dr. Ragen’s misconduct and deception involving his oversight of the MMC Report on “Mariculture and Harbor Seals in Drakes Estero, California” on November 22, 2011, and his private (concealed) reversal of the key conclusion from his MMC Report in a letter on June 17, 2012.  It is alleged that:

1)    Dr. Ragen Violated MMC Policies Established for Scientific Review

a.     Did Not Treat All Parties Equally But Had Biased Interactions with NPS

b.    Did Not Conduct an Independent Review of NPS Data and Analysis

2)    Dr. Ragen Changed MMC Terms of Reference Without Disclosure or Discussion

a.     Changed Scope, Title, and Purpose of MMC Report

b.    Accepted Lack of Disclosure of Key Data and Paper by NPS

3)    Dr. Ragen Violated the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

a.     Failed to Disclose and Release Key Communications

b.    Failed to Provide Basis for Failing to Disclose & Release Key Communications

4)    Dr. Ragen Violated MMC Scientific Integrity Policy

a.     Did Not Follow Open Discussion, Open Dialogue, Open Exchange

b.    Undermined and Avoided Meetings to Discuss Data and Analysis

5)    Dr. Ragen Failed to Properly Disclose Reversal of Key Conclusion of MMC Report

a.     Reversed MMC Support of Key NPS Paper In a ‘Private’ Letter

b.    Concealed Reversal While Claiming Key MMC Conclusion Was Unchanged

According to the MMC Scientific Integrity Policy filed on March 29, 2011 with Dr. John Holdren [Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), White House], the MMC has a cooperative agreement with the DOC OIG regarding investigations of the MMC.  According to that 2011 policy, the DOC OIG agreed to conduct independent investigations of the Executive Director when appropriate given the circumstances.  The serious allegations of misconduct and deception set forth in this complaint against the MMC Executive Director mandate that the DOC OIG undertake this investigation.

The above-cited MMC Report is being relied upon by NPS to help justify a pending Department of the Interior policy decision.  The NPS has announced that in its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the oyster farm lease renewal at Drakes Estero, it plans to consider Dr. Ragen’s MMC Report as an independent review of NPS science, and as a ‘peer review’ of the EIS section on harbor seal impacts.

As an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), I listened the morning of April 27, 2009, as President Obama spoke to my fellow NAS members at our annual meeting.  It was an historic speech – the first President to address the NAS since President John Kennedy.  President Obama sent a powerful message about the integrity of science.  The President spoke movingly of “restoring science to its rightful place” and the need “to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions.”  Toward that end, he established scientific integrity policies under the jurisdiction of the White House OSTP.

The 2011 MMC Scientific Integrity Policy states that MMC policies are intended to ensure a culture of scientific integrityand provideindependent expert analysis of scientific, policy, and regulatory issues consistent with the provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

Dr. Ragen abandoned the MMC policy filed with the White House at the very time he should have been guided by it.  The Scientific Integrity Policy’s directive of “honest investigation, open discussion, refined understanding, and a firm commitment to evidence” was not followed, nor did Dr. Ragen adhere to the directive that “the Commission actively seeks input from and open dialogue among all parties engaged in all issues

Dr. Ragen was disingenuous to a U.S. Senator, the Marin County Board of Supervisors, independent scientists who became involved at the request of the County Supervisors, a community torn apart by NPS misconduct at Point Reyes, the press seeking the truth, the oyster farmer, and the farm’s 30 workers whose livelihoods rest in the balance.

This case, with all of its details, boils down to the following three questions:

1.    Did Dr. Ragen ignore his principles of transparency, inclusiveness, equal access, fairness, and independence, and sacrifice the impartiality of his MMC Report?

2.    Did Dr. Ragen allow NPS to review NPS – effectively allowing a self-review – while publicly claiming the MMC Report was independent and without bias?

3.    Did Dr. Ragen deceive the public in his MMC Report and his communications?

I end with a note concerning my affiliation.  I have many professional affiliations as scientist, professor, educator, entrepreneur, executive, and venture capitalist.  Those professional affiliations have shaped my life and provide the scientific experience and wisdom – as well as the scientific credentials and reputation (e.g., elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, professor at UCSF) – that I bring to this issue.

In coming forward with this complaint, I do so as independent citizen scientist, and I do so on behalf of truth, scientific integrity, and my commitment to public service at the interface of science and policy.  That commitment is reflected by my service to the National Research Council (I chaired the NRC Board on Life Sciences for six years) and the California Council on Science and Technology (I serve as an elected member).

It is now clear that there were two faces to Dr. Ragen, one public and the other private.  Dr. Ragen deceived the public to believe he was independent, and in so doing, violated his own MMC policies and misled elected officials in an ongoing public policy decision.  There are profound implications in the misconduct described here, not just for the MMC and NPS, but for all Federal agencies that rely upon impartial and scholarly science for policy decisions.  I pledge my full cooperation with your investigation.

Sincerely yours,

Corey S. Goodman, Ph.D.

corey.goodman@me.com

415 663-9495

PO Box 803, Marshall, CA 94940

 

For the supporting Documents Click on the links below:

CSG to Zinser 11_07_12 complaint

CSG to Zinser 11_07_12 appendix

CSG to Muldoon 11_07_12 cover letter

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