02-07-14 Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: Oh, Hey, the Keystone Pipeline Rocks!

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar:
Oh, Hey, the Keystone Pipeline Is Cool Now.

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: Oh, Hey, the Keystone Pipeline Rocks!

Look, Obama administration, if you don’t want to build the Keystone Pipeline, just come out and say so. Take the political lumps and get it over with. Enough of this perpetual “well, we just need to review it a few more months” limbo. To put the length of time of this review in perspective, when they first sought approval to build the pipeline, the fossils that make up the fossil fuel of the oil were still walking around.

And get a load of who’s endorsing the project now that he’s no longer in a position to help it come to fruition:

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in an interview Thursday his endorsement of construction of the Keystone oil sands pipeline comes after learning new information, including that the pipeline would not greatly increase carbon emissions.

Speaking at an energy conference in Texas earlier this week, Salazar said he supported the project.

He said he believed construction could “be done in a way that creates a win-win for energy and the environment.”

This is the first time Salazar, now a lawyer in the private sector, has endorsed the pipeline, which would carry crude from tar sands in Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

In 2012, Salazar hewed close to President Barack Obama’s position on the issue.

“My concerns about the Keystone pipeline are in line with the Obama Administration’s position on the issue. I feel that the president acted responsibly in rejecting the initial proposal on the grounds of environmental issues,” he said, according to media reports. “Until the guidelines for this project are significantly altered, the pipeline should not be constructed because of the potential risks it poses to the well being of U.S. citizens.”

Salazar insists that as interior secretary, he couldn’t influence the State Department’s review and approval process. But does he really expect us to believe that his vocal approval to his colleagues within the administration wouldn’t have changed anything?

This just handed to me from the Keystone supporters: Gee, thanks a heap for going out on that limb, Johnny-Come-Lately. Would you prefer a medal or a monument?

I’ll let the editorial board of the Washington Post lay out the reasons to build the Pipeline:

ENVIRONMENTALISTS HAVE drawn a line in the sand on the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s the wrong line in the wrong sand, far away from any realistic assessment of the merits — as yet another government analysis has confirmed. It’s past time for President Obama to set aside politics and resolve this bizarre distraction of an issue.

The State Department’s latest study — the product of more than five years of investigation — largely confirms the conclusions of previous assessments and those of many independent energy experts: Allowing the firm Trans­Canada to build Keystone XL, which would run across the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb., is unlikely to have significant effects on climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because its construction, or its rejection, would not significantly affect the extraction of tar sands bitumen, an oil-like substance, in Alberta. Even if the president rejects Keystone XL and no other pipelines out of Alberta are built, the crude could still travel by rail and barge — with marginallyhigher greenhouse emissions and a higher likelihood of accident. One hundred eighty thousand barrels of Canadian crude already moves on train cars every day.

Here are the reasons to not build the pipeline:

  • Self-identified environmentalists hate oil companies.
  • Self-identified environmentalists really hate oil companies.

I can hear it now: “But Jim, what about if the oil pipeline leaks? What if it gets in the aquifers?” You know what you do if there’s a leak in an oil pipeline? You stop pumping the oil through the pipeline, and you drive out and you fix it. Sure, it’s messy, but the leak stays in one place. It’s a heck of a lot easier than heading out and putting a new hull on a sinking Exxon Valdez,on bobbling waves as all that oil chokes an ecosystem and the little fishies and seagulls.

Back to those self-identified environmentalists who really hate oil companies. They fume at the companies for providing a fuel that is absolutely essential to modern life. Vast majorities of those who denounce oil companies the loudest still use cars in one way or another. Even if you’re driving a Prius, that thing isn’t a hybrid of wind and solar. It still uses gasoline, depending on the circumstances. And even if you walk everywhere, you still go to the store and buy things that were delivered on a truck that uses gasoline.

This is one of the reasons those who don’t self-identify as environmentalists scoff and mock those who do, even if we like a lot of the same stuff the environmentalists do — clean water, clean air, clean beaches, open spaces, cute and cuddly endangered species, etc. Most of us grow up and recognize that there are always going to be trade-offs. If you put up a wind turbine, it’s going to kill some birds. (The only legal way to kill a bald eagle in the United States is with a wind turbine.)

When you see horrific oil spills like the Exxon Valdez or the BP Deepwater Horizon, it’s natural and justified to get really angry at the oil companies. Unleash the hordes of lawyers. Hold them accountable. But there’s no magic wand that makes us no longer need oil, not without fantastic breakthroughs and years and years to transition to newer fuels and sources of energy.

This is why the fuming about Keystone looks like such a pose; it’s not about what their efforts to prevent the Pipeline project actually do, it’s about broadcasting to the world how much they care.

12-24-14 West Marin Citizen, Opinion, Dr. Creque: “Our actions matter…on our… path to self-destruction”

“I have spent the past 35 years exploring… the many challenges attendant to producing food in a manner that is ecologically benign or, at its best, beneficial. …. it was not until I watched the evolution of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm under the stewardship of the Lunny family that I came to fully appreciate how closely the Farm approaches perfection as a truly sustainable food production system. This simple fact is made all the more poignant by the juxtaposition of the imminent loss of the Farm and the particularly critical juncture in human history at which we now find ourselves….

Arguments by opponents of the oyster farm, that its destruction is an environmental good, have been repeatedly exposed as without scientific merit….

I cannot help but wonder upon what planet those who have fought so diligently -and so obscenely- against the oyster farm, imagine themselves to be living. Earth, this planet, is in ecological crisis.

What might make a difference, what could make a difference, would be for us to wake up and recognize that we are part of this astonishing web of life, this vibrant blue sphere, this mote of dust in the sun. Our actions matter, for better or ill, as we choose. The oyster farm epitomizes the potential for our constructive, exuberant engagement with the full complexity of the living world. Perhaps this is why it cannot be allowed to stand by those who view mankind apart from that, who are incapable of imagining no role for our species but that of despoiler.

The discretionary elimination of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is but one more tragic, foolish, volitional step along our rapidly accelerating path to self-destruction. We have the capacity to build a world of abundance, but, thus far, have chosen another road.”

 

West Marin Citizen, 12/24/14

Opinion

On the loss of Drakes Bay OysterFarm

Significance beyond the obvious

Jeff Creque

I have spent the past 35 years exploring, through both theory and practice, the many challenges attendant to producing food in a manner that is ecologically benign or, at its best, beneficial. I have enjoyed oysters from Drakes Estero throughout that time, but it was not until I watched the evolution of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm under the stewardship of the Lunny family that I came to fully appreciate how closely the Farm approaches perfection as a truly sustainable food production system. This simple fact is made all the more poignant by the juxtaposition of the imminent loss of the Farm and the particularly critical juncture in human history at which we now find ourselves.

Whether one views the Anthropocene as beginning with the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, or with the agricultural revolution of 8,000 BCE, the era is rapidly approaching endgame. We are now witnessing the sixth great extinction event on Earth. The Northwest Passage is no longer a fantasy. The most recent sea-level rise projections, expressed in feet, soar to the double digits. Wild oceanic fisheries are projected to collapse within the next 35 years, just as the human need for protein doubles.

Shellfish aquaculture is widely recognized as one of the few sustainable options for marine protein production, even as oceans acidify, placing natural shellfish reproduction everywhere at risk. The US already faces a worsening shellfish deficit without the gratuitous destruction of over half of California’s production capacity.We cannot replace this resource without effectively stealing it from the mouths of others, though, to be sure, we have shown ourselves to be very good at that.

Arguments by opponents of the oyster farm, that its destruction is an environmental good, have been repeatedly exposed as without scientific merit. If Department of Interior policy is derived behind a smokescreen of distorted and falsified pseudoscience to fit political whims, the future of our public lands, already at dire risk from under funding, archaic management paradigms and rapidly advancing climate change, is dark indeed. If the National Environmental Policy Act can be manipulated by politics and ultimately ignored, as has been done repeatedly in the Drakes Bay tragedy, what recourse do we as citizens have in the ongoing effort to protect our environment against actual threats? And if the constitutional rights of the people of our state can be so easily bought and sold, what hope can there be for the emergence of a functional democracy in America?

I cannot help but wonder upon what planet those who have fought so diligently -and so obscenely- against the oyster farm, imagine themselves to be living. Earth, this planet, is in ecological crisis. A single species, ourselves, is claiming over half of the annual biological production for its own use, and fouling its land, water and air with total disregard for the limits of the global system upon which we are utterly dependent to absorb or purify any of it. Wilderness? We will be lucky to survive this century, and no amount of diddling with magic markers on a map will make a bit of difference to that calculus.

What might make a difference, what could make a difference, would be for us to wake up and recognize that we are part of this astonishing web of life, this vibrant blue sphere, this mote of dust in the sun. Our actions matter, for better or ill, as we choose. The oyster farm epitomizes the potential for our constructive, exuberant engagement with the full complexity of the living world. Perhaps this is why it cannot be allowed to stand by those who view mankind apart from that, who are incapable of imagining no role for our species but that of despoiler.

The discretionary elimination of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is but one more tragic, foolish, volitional step along our rapidly accelerating path to self-destruction. We have the capacity to build a world of abundance, but, thus far, have chosen another road.

 

Jeff Creque, PhD. of Petaluma, a Land Stewardship Consultant, is a specialist in agroecology and for many years worked on a ranch at Point Reyes National Seashore. 

12-22-14 “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” MLK

After nearly 100 years of oyster farming, December 31, 2014 will be the last day of oyster operations at Drakes Estero.

This is shameful and, in my opinion, the National Park Service, the NPCA, the EAC and, the leaders of those environmental organizations who opposed the continuation of the ecologically beneficial, sustainable, renewable, local oyster farm, as well as all those who mislead the public, are just this kind of dangerous! Joining those at the top of my list of dangerous is Judge Gonzales Rogers, for her kangaroo court shenanigans which effectively prevented proper hearing of the DBOC side in this issue in the first place.

My opinion:

  1. Fire all involved
  2. Strip them of their pensions
  3. Rescind the under graduate, graduate and doctorate degrees awarded any of them (for they have shat upon them, reducing those sheepskins to toilet paper.)
  4. Impeachment for Judge Rogers is in order, as well as cancelling her pension and, stripping her of all of her degrees.

At the National Park Service level, and from their involvement at the Point Reyes National Seashore level, those who should be ousted first and stripped of pensions and all letters include, yet are not limited to, Jon Jarvis, Don Neubacher, Dr. Sarah Allen, Dr. Ben Becker, David Press, Melanie Gunn and, Cicely Muldoon.

The EAC should be run out of town along with Amy Trainer and Gordon Bennett.

All those at the top of National Park Conservation Association and, most especially, Neal Desai.

Others that should be terminated and stripped include, but are not limited to, Dr. Tim Regan of the Marine Mammal Commission (see

11-07-2012 Marine Mammal Commission Report on Drakes Estero Tainted By NPS-MMC Misconduct at https://oysterzone.wordpress.com/?s=dr+Ragen

In my opinion, so many have contributed to the abuse and misuse of science, the law, and history, but these people stand out as the most dangerous and would be a good place to start. Add whatever names you wish.

Finally, in my opinion, it is too bad tarring, feathering, and being run out of town on a rail is no longer an option, that would be a fitting end to all of the above mentioned.

11-13-14 Point Reyes Light: Opinion by Dr. Laura Watt, Ranchers have “good cause for concern”

“Last week an opinion piece in this newspaper suggested that environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, might be gunning for the Point Reyes National Seashore’s dairy and beef ranches through the recent Ranch Comprehensive Management Planning process. The authors, and others who support the continuation of ranching, may have good cause for concern. This would not be the first time advocacy groups have used planning processes to target the leased ranches…”

Through actions and words, trust needs to be rebuilt at Point Reyes

By  Laura Watt11/13/2014

Last week an opinion piece in this newspaper suggested that environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, might be gunning for the Point Reyes National Seashore’s dairy and beef ranches through the recent Ranch Comprehensive Management Planning process. The authors, and others who support the continuation of ranching, may have good cause for concern.
This would not be the first time advocacy groups have used planning processes to target the leased ranches in efforts to steer management toward a greater emphasis on wilderness and wildlife. While current environmentalists may be far more supportive of sustaining agriculture at the seashore, there is a long history of opposition that they will need to overcome.
As early as 1971, only nine years after the seashore was first established, the National Parks Conservation Association wrote a “Wilderness and Master Plan” that called for designating nearly the entire peninsula as wilderness, shutting down all the working ranches at the time (many of which were still in private ownership). The association’s plan did not receive support from other wilderness advocates, who instead rallied behind a more moderate plan from the Sierra Club—but that was not the last time elimination of agriculture was proposed.
In 1997, under Superintendent Don Neubacher’s leadership, the seashore began the processes of updating its 1980 General Management Plan. A Notice of Intent was published in October, stating that “comments on the scoping of the proposed GMP/EIS should be received no later than January 31, 1998,” and that public scoping sessions would be announced. It went on to anticipate a draft in Spring 1999, and a final document in early 2000.
Oddly, the first comment letters actually pre-dated the notice; the earliest is stamped as received over a month before the request for comments was published. It was also a form letter, with text identical to, sometimes even down to the font type, at least 10 other letters, many of which came from out-of-state and all urging the same thing: that the National Park Service “not renew any grazing leases as they come due.”
A second form letter, longer and more subtly worded than the first, began appearing in letters in November 1999; one paragraph asserted that, “with 13 operating ranches, there are potential conflicts between natural and cultural resource management,” giving an example of “runoff from ranching harming salmon and steelhead runs and the water quality in Tomales Bay.” An identical sentence appeared in the N.P.C.A.’s official comment letter, suggesting the organization was likely the source of the text.
Several scoping meetings were held during the following months, but nothing more happened until a newsletter sent out in 2003 identified five management “concepts” as “preliminary ideas for the General Management Plan.” The concepts represented a range of vague approaches, each promising increased emphasis on a different area of management, from natural resources to visitor experience to sustainable agriculture. The language in several concepts implied that continuing agricultural uses at current levels, as a form of protecting cultural landscapes, was incompatible with natural resource preservation and restoration. Each proposed expansion of wilderness and natural areas came coupled with a reduction of working agriculture.
Public comment was invited, and a single scoping meeting was held on Jan. 14, 2004. Over 120 people crammed into the Red Barn, with more spilling out the doorway. A proposed “Concept Six” was published in the Light, suggesting the enhancement of cultural and natural resource restoration and preservation through sustainable agriculture, modeled on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s “Countryside Initiative” plan. (I was one of the uncredited co-authors.) Concept Six received a good deal of support in scoping comments from local citizens, yet anti-ranching sentiments were once again expressed in a scoping letter sent by the Sierra Club Marin Group. Authored by Gordon Bennett, the organization’s letter demanded extensive scrutiny of agricultural operations at the seashore:
PRNS should prepare a list of all other National Park Service units that have grazing or oyster operations, whether those are permanent or temporary uses, and the extent of these uses in these units. We would also urge PRNS to commission an exhaustive legal analysis (including actual legislation, testimony before committees, floor statements, and committee reports) to see whether Congress intended existing beef, dairy and oyster operations to be permanent or temporary within the PRNS management areas … We urge that this legal analysis determine with a reasonable degree of certainty the extent to which there may exist any legal obligation on the Park Service to renew or extend leases for these existing agricultural or maricultural operations.
The letter went on to ponder whether Congress intended to allow diversified practices such as row-cropping; asked for numerous studies on habitat impacts of grazing; questioned the economic importance of agriculture locally; and finally argued that agriculture should indeed be phased out of the seashore.
The park service projected that a draft general plan would be available for public review in late 2005 or early 2006, but nothing was ever released. Seventeen years have now passed since the initial notice was published, and pressure appears to be building on the ranches once again. The very same day the park published a scoping report for this process, on Sept. 18, the Center for Biological Diversity sent out a detailed press release, trumpeting public support for a free-ranging tule elk herd and arguing that “grazing permits are a privilege and certainly not a free pass to try to dictate Park Service policy.” The C.B.D.’s press release also made veiled threats of legal action if the seashore takes any steps toward fencing or relocating elk in its efforts to assist ranchers being harmed by herds in the pastoral zone.
This kind of political pressure against the working ranches is clearly not new, and could seriously threaten the long-term viability of those operations. Supporters of maintaining the historic working landscape at Point Reyes, as intended by Congress when it first established the seashore, should be sure their voices are heard above the fray—and environmental groups genuinely interested in supporting the continuation of local agriculture must understand that the reasons for mistrust are real. While past deeds are not the only measure of present intentions, trust that there is not an agenda to push out the ranches needs to be rebuilt through actions in addition to words.
Dr. Laura A. Watt is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies and Planning and Sonoma State University, and is currently completing a book manuscript on the history of land management at Point Reyes National Seashore.

11-13-14 Point Reyes Light & West Marin Citizen: Letter to the Editors: Our pledge request dashed

Letter to the editor:
Our pledge request dashed
Last week we asked Neal Desai of the National Park Conservation Association and Amy Trainer of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin to “take the pledge” to promise to the community that “neither I nor any organization I am a part of will ever participate in legal action to eliminate or restrict the ranches on Point Reyes.” We asked because in the late 1990s, Mr. Desai and his organization successfully sued the National Park Service based on the federal Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act to get rid of a ranch on Santa Rosa Island. On Tuesday evening, Nita Vail, whose family was evicted from that ranch, spoke to the community, and cautioned us that what happened to her could happen here. Mr. Desai was in the audience. During the Q&A period, one of us asked Mr. Desai to take the pledge. His answer, which should be a wake up call to the community, was to say that such a request was “ridiculous.” That word makes the many others from Mr. De- sai and Ms. Trainer in support of agriculture just that—hollow words.
Corey Goodman and Peter Prows
Marshall and Oakland 

 

11-06-14 PRL: THE END OF AGRICULTURE ON POINT REYES

http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/end-agriculture-point-reyes

The park, the E.A.C., the N.P.C.A. and others have claimed they are not trying to get rid of the ranches. We are skeptical. If they mean what they say, then we ask Jon Jarvis, Neal Desai, Gordon Bennett, Amy Trainer and Jerry Meral to make the following pledge to the community: I promise that neither I nor any organization I am a part of will ever participate in legal action to eliminate or restrict the ranches on Point Reyes; and if such legal action is ever taken, I will do everything in my power to vigorously defend the ranches.

If they don’t take the pledge, watch out. Our ranches are about to disappear.

The end of agriculture on Point Reyes
By Corey Goodman and Peter Prows
11/06/2014
In 1962, a historic collaboration between environmentalists and agriculturalists led to the formation of the Point Reyes National Seashore. This, along with a new county plan and help from the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, preserved West Marin as a working landscape of beautiful ranches and rolling hills, and as a beacon for how to produce sustainable food while protecting the environment.

But today a new generation of activists and National Park Service officials view agriculture with antipathy. If that view prevails, the ranches on Point Reyes will go the way of the oyster company. We challenge those activists and officials to embrace what their predecessors supported: that agriculture and the environment can successfully collaborate. We call on them to pledge to oppose efforts already underway to run the ranchers out of the seashore.

It wasn’t always this way. In 1961, a representative of what is now the National Parks Conservation Association testified to the United States Senate in support of preserving ranching in Point Reyes: “the combination of dairy country and wild natural shoreland is part of the charm of Point Reyes, and we think the combination ought to be preserved.” The park lauded the “exceptional” public values provided by the oyster farm. In the 1970s, the founder of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Jerry Friedman, wrote to Congress supporting the continuation of the ranches and oyster farm—even in designated wilderness. The Sierra Club is on record saying much the same thing.

But in recent years these groups have flip-flopped as their leadership and priorities have changed. The park, under the direction of Jon Jarvis, led the charge to remove the oyster farm. The N.P.C.A. and its representative, Neal Desai, launched campaign-style national attacks on the oyster farm that were premised on falsehoods. The Sierra Club, initially under the direction of Gordon Bennett, did much the same.

Amy Trainer’s E.A.C. has seen its membership dwindle but its money and political influence grow as it ramped up attacks on agriculture, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Sacramento-based fund created by former Republican Governor Wilson’s undersecretary for resources. The E.A.C.’s only agricultural representative recently resigned in frustration, and rather than replace her with someone from the agricultural community to its board, the group brought in activist and political insider Jerry Meral.

Sadly, the closure of the oyster farm is not the end, but rather the beginning of the battle to protect agriculture on Point Reyes. We fear that in the next five years we will witness the end of agriculture, and with it the weakening of the ecosystem that supports farming and ranching throughout West Marin.

In coming to this conclusion, we have been good students of history, examining what happened at Cowboy Island, also known as Santa Rosa Island, in the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. There we found a blueprint.

Tim Setnicka, the former superintendent of Channel Islands National Park, warned our community two weeks ago that what happened at Cowboy Island was going to happen here. Nita Vail, the daughter of the ranching family that was kicked off the island, will speak next week, on Nov. 11, at West Marin School.

The Vails owned Cowboy Island and ranched on it for nearly 100 years. Congress recognized them as excellent stewards of the land. In creating the national park, the park service made a deal with the Vails in which the latter would be allowed to continue ranching for several decades. But then the park and its supporters started claiming cattle were polluting streams and harming endangered species in a national park area, using what Setnicka called dishonest science.

Ultimately, the N.P.C.A., with the help of the Center for Biological Diversity and a Santa Barbara environmental group, sued the park service, alleging the Vails were violating the federal Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. The park settled the case out of court, and as a result, evicted the Vails from the island.

What does this story teach us about Point Reyes? The parallels are unnerving. Both parks were set up as partnerships between agriculturalists and environmentalists. In both there has been a change in mindset away from agriculture. On Point Reyes, the park demonized the oyster farm with dishonest science. On Cowboy Island, the park used dishonest science to restrict ranching, while lawsuits by national environmental groups ultimately sealed the Vails’ fate.

Will our ranches go the way of the oyster farm and the Vails’ ranch? The warning signs are distressing. The park’s environmental impact statement on the oyster farm put a bulls-eye on the ranchers by identifying them as “the primary source of nonpoint-source pollution in Drakes Estero.” But the oysters clean the water by filtering the coliform bacteria, a benefit the National Academy of Sciences thought was significant. Once the oysters are gone, the estero will lose the beneficial filtering functions, and winter rains will lead to increasing coliform levels. Higher levels may invite opportunistic groups to file a Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act suit against the park, which will then be pressured to settle by evicting the ranchers.

And while the suit is pending, the ranchers will continue to compete with the out-of-control tule elk for scarce forage and water.

There is good reason to believe this is the plan. As Phyllis Faber has written in these pages, a few years ago, when Don Neubacher was superintendent, he told her the C.B.D. had just such a lawsuit ready to go as soon as the oysters were removed from Drakes Estero. Last year, Gordon Bennett invited River Watch and its leader Jack Silver into this community; Silver is notorious for filing frivolous Clean Water Act lawsuits, and has already filed such a suit against the oyster farm. The C.B.D. is taking the opportunity presented by the park’s new ranch-planning process to organize its national membership in opposition to ranching.

Just last month, a blog called Protect Our Shoreline News, which is supported by local activists, wrote that now we will get to find out if “… what matters is controlling what flows into the estuary.” Given the history of Cowboy Island, there is little doubt what that statement means.

The park, the E.A.C., the N.P.C.A. and others have claimed they are not trying to get rid of the ranches. We are skeptical. If they mean what they say, then we ask Jon Jarvis, Neal Desai, Gordon Bennett, Amy Trainer and Jerry Meral to make the following pledge to the community: I promise that neither I nor any organization I am a part of will ever participate in legal action to eliminate or restrict the ranches on Point Reyes; and if such legal action is ever taken, I will do everything in my power to vigorously defend the ranches.

If they don’t take the pledge, watch out. Our ranches are about to disappear.

Peter Prows is an attorney and partner with Briscoe Ivester & Bazel L.L.P. of San Francisco. Although he has represented Drakes Bay Oyster Company, he wrote this column in his personal capacity. Dr. Corey Goodman, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, is the scientist and West Marin rancher who discovered the misleading science used by the park and its supporters against the oyster farm.
Peter Prows
155 Sansome Street, Seventh Floor
San Francisco, California 94104
Direct: (415) 402-2708 Cell: (415) 994-8991

05-01-2014 Point Reyes Light: Circuit Court Denies EAC, NPCA, NRDC & SOS Appeal as Intervenors

Circuit court denies EAC appeal

05/01/2014

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed a lower court ruling denying a request by the Environmental Action Committee, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Save our Seashore to be named intervenors in federal litigation between Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the federal government. Outside parties can be designated as intervenors in a case if they can prove that their particular interests are not being properly represented; intervenors can file briefs as official parties and participate in hearings. The organizations argued that their interests were specifically focused on wilderness protection, whereas the federal government’s position was based on broader issues of the management of national parks. District court judges previously ruled that the groups’ arguments would be too similar to the federal government’s and would result in unnecessary paperwork, but said they could still participate as amici curaie. Although the Ninth Circuit affirmed that ruling, the circuit also ruled in September against Drakes Bay’s request for an emergency injunction to continue operations as it fights the park’s decision to remove the oyster farm, which is now appealing that decision to the Supreme Court.

01-04-2014 Marin Voice: Court can ‘clear the air’

POINT REYES

Court can ‘clear the air’

Richard Kohn’s Dec. 20 letter about the oyster farm case seems to imply that, given the evolution in its legal approach, the 9th Circuit shouldn’t grant rehearing.

But, at heart, that evolution can be seen as normal: The case came up to the 9th Circuit with incomplete development of the legal issues because, for procedural reasons, it came up very quickly.

Yet, even then, why should the oyster farm get a rehearing when it has already had a day in court, however truncated?

The over-arching reason is one that the court itself has acknowledged: The original legislative intent was that the oyster beds belonged in the wilderness.

(The majority held original intent was tacitly overridden by special legislation.)

And that original legislative intent has long been misunderstood by Interior Department counsel, whose opinion drove the erroneous decision to close the oyster farm. Staff counsel misunderstood legislative intent because it had an all-too-common misunderstanding of the Wilderness Act itself.

The court could and should set that right upon rehearing. There are at least two other urgent issues:

Many wonder whether any of the agriculturalists, not just the oyster farmer, will be allowed to remain in the seashore. A decision by the 9th Circuit could put to rest persistent rumors that the park service intends to strip it of all its farms.

Many also feel that some park service people have abused scientific evidence. By clearing the air, the court could restore public confidence in the park service.

Jim Linford, Marinwood

12-30-13 DBOF Filing Argues Courts Must Have Jurisdiction to Ensure Integrity of Agency Decisions

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.

01-04-2014 Marin Voice Critics Ignore Environmental Facts

“…they should explain why they want to gut the nation’s most important environmental law — the National Environmental Policy Act — to boot out the oyster farm. NPCA and its allies argue that NEPA shouldn’t apply to projects that an agency says will be a net benefit for the environment.

Agencies are ready to make decisions on major projects with controversial environmental impacts, like California’s twin peripheral tunnels, Keystone XL, and offshore fracking.

Proponents of those projects always argue that they will be a net benefit for the environment.

NPCA and its allies may rue the day they helped smooth the way for these projects by exempting them from NEPA.”

Marin Voice: Pt. Reyes oyster farm critics ignore environmental facts

By Peter Prows
Guest op-ed column

Posted:   01/04/2014 06:44:00 PM PST

 

Click photo to enlarge

Peter Prows (Photo by John Swanda)

THE National Parks Conservation Association’s spokesman Neal Desai and his allies like the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), have some serious explaining to do.

First, they should explain why they have flip-flopped on the oyster farm.

When Congress was debating wilderness legislation for Point Reyes in 1976, every interested environmental and civic organization told Congress that the oyster farm should be allowed to “continue unrestrained by wilderness designation” because it is “considered desirable by both the public and park managers.”  (emphasis added)

What changed?

Second, they should explain why they have such trouble with the truth. Mr. Desai claims that Drakes Estero would be the “first marine wilderness area on the west coast.” But Drakes Estero won’t even be the first marine wilderness in Point Reyes; it’ll be the fourth.

Mr. Desai seems not to have noticed that Estero de Limantour, Abbott’s Lagoon, and the southern end of Drakes Estero were designated as wilderness in 1999.

Mr. Desai and his allies have also made claim after false claim of various “egregious” environmental harms allegedly caused by the oyster farm. In fact, Drakes Estero is thriving: the water quality is excellent, eelgrass has doubled, and the harbor seals just had their best pupping season on record.

Third, Mr. Desai and his allies should explain why they goaded state Coastal Commission staff into breaking their agreement with the oyster farm. Commission staff and the oyster farm had agreed that the farm’s permit application would be processed when the federal environmental review was complete.

When that review came to an end last November, however, NPCA and EAC successfully urged commission staff to bring enforcement actions against the oyster farm for not having a permit, instead of processing the farm’s permit application. That breach violates the aquaculture-friendly policies of the Coastal Act, which require that aquaculture projects be given permitting priority.

Fourth, they should explain why they want to gut the nation’s most important environmental law — the National Environmental Policy Act — to boot out the oyster farm. NPCA and its allies argue that NEPA shouldn’t apply to projects that an agency says will be a net benefit for the environment.

Agencies are ready to make decisions on major projects with controversial environmental impacts, like California’s twin peripheral tunnels, Keystone XL, and offshore fracking.

Proponents of those projects always argue that they will be a net benefit for the environment.

NPCA and its allies may rue the day they helped smooth the way for these projects by exempting them from NEPA.

Peter Prows is a partner with Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP of San Francisco, which represents the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

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