Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Tale of Two Administrations

On Monday President-elect Obama unveiled more appointments, his energy and environmental team, including Nobel-prize-winning physicist Stephen Chu. Obama says that Chu's appointment "should send a signal to all that my administration will value science. We will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that facts demand bold action" unlike, say, the current administration. Monday also brought this story from the NY Times...

WASHINGTON — The inspector general of the Interior Department has found that agency officials often interfered with scientific work in order to limit protections for species at risk of becoming extinct, reviving attention to years of disputes over the Bush administration’s science policies.

In a report delivered to Congress on Monday, the inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found serious flaws in the process that led to 15 decisions related to policies on endangered species...

Most of the problematic decisions involved Julie A. MacDonald, a former deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, who oversaw endangered-species issues and frequently clashed with scientists. The report does not accuse Ms. MacDonald of doing anything illegal, but criticizes her conduct severely...She resigned in May 2007 after an earlier inspector general report found that she had run roughshod over agency scientists and violated federal rules by giving internal documents to industry lobbyists...

Francesca Grifo, director of the scientific integrity program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group, portrayed Ms. MacDonald’s case as a symbol of a broader pattern of manipulation of science under the Bush administration.

"Over and over again, in agency after agency," Ms. Grifo said, "we've seen where special interests bump up against scientific determinations, the science is set aside."

The Bush Administration's War on Science has been detailed in many other posts here, but it all seems even more troubling when talking about endangered species. Let's hope the Obama Administration (I'm liking the sound of that more and more), including the soon to be named Interior Secretary nominee Ken Salazar gets busy on this on Day One.

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posted at 5:15:00 AM by Duane Tate

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