Wow! What a surprise! Is there any governmental department that hasn’t been corrupted by this administration?

Report Faults Interior Appointee

A senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has repeatedly altered scientific field reports to minimize protections for imperiled species and disclosed confidential information to private groups seeking to affect policy decisions, the department’s inspector general concluded.

The investigator’s report on Julie A. MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks — which was triggered by an anonymous complaint from a Fish and Wildlife Service employee and expanded in October after a Washington Post article about MacDonald — said she frequently sought to reshape the agency’s scientific reports in an effort to ease the impact of agency decisions on private landowners.
[…]
The IG noted that MacDonald “admitted that her degree is in civil engineering and that she has no formal educational background in natural sciences” but repeatedly instructed Fish and Wildlife scientists to change their recommendations on identifying “critical habitats,” despite her lack of expertise.
[…]
When scientists wrote that the bird had a “nesting range” of 2.1 miles, MacDonald told field personnel to change the number to 1.8 miles. Hall, a wildlife biologist who told the IG he had had a “running battle” with MacDonald, said she did not want the range to extend to California because her husband had a family ranch there.



  1. Smith says:

    I never really know how to take these types of stories. Is the political appointee really doing a business friend a favor or is he/she just trying to tone down a report from a government eco-freak? I’m sure examples of both exists. I know there has been a case where the government “scientists” (under Clinton) deliberately lied to the detriment of the logging industry.

  2. Wanderley says:

    Smith (#1), I agree.

    However, when you look at dozens of incompetent Bush appointees, it’s hard to imagine this is anything different. After all, his bar for nominating that Supreme Court Justice was that she was a “nice lady”.

    It’s like the President himself says: Fool me once…

  3. Misanthropic Scott says:

    #1 – Smith,

    There is no good reason for government to be altering scientific reports. They can alter their recommendations based on them. But, altering the raw data corrupts the science. I don’t care which administration or what the reason behind it is, keep science as pure as it can be. Make policy based on valid science.

  4. nonStatist says:

    “Wow! What a surprise! Is there any governmental department that hasn’t been corrupted by this administration?”

    Yeah because once the democrats get into the white house everything will be fine and everyone can go back to sleep. Government is naturally corrupt given that it has a monopoly on force.

  5. mxpwr03 says:

    If this administration has to “lie” to get the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to ease up on their biased practices, so be it. One example pointed to in the report was that the Administration picked one extreme critical value in the statistical measurement instead of the point estimate (i.e. the mean). Maybe the FWS should decrease their confidence level, and than present the stats.

    Let me elaborate on this quote, “She has demoralized the entire U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by deriding its scientists, overruling its decision-makers, and showing complete disregard for professional channels of decision making.” I would think this example below to be more demoralizing than picking an extreme critical value. Quoted from Robert J. Barro’s book “Getting It Right, Markets and Choices in a Free Society”-
    “The October, 1993 fires in Riverside Country, California destroyed many homes. Firebreaks, which normally clear a path in the brush to interrupt the spread of fires, had been prohibited for 1993 by the FWS in order to protect the habitat of the kangaroo rat, a listed (endangered) species. Ironically, the intense fires probably destroyed the rats living there also.” The homeowners’ saw their property destroyed, with no reimbursement from the federal government. I’m not sure what was done for the kangaroo rats who escaped the blaze, I’d guess something along the lines of a quadrupling of funding.

    The notion of the FWS protecting “critical habitats” is also biased. This numbers are from Barro’s book, which highlights the top 10 spending by the FWS from 1989-1991 (in millions).
    1. Bald Eagle – 31.3
    2. Northern spotted owl – 26.4
    3. Florida scrub jay – 19.9
    4. West Indian manatee – 17.3
    5. Red cockaded woodpecker – 15.1
    6. Florida panther – 13.6
    7. Grizzly bear – 12.6
    8. Least Bell’s vireo – 12.5
    9. American peregrine falcon – 11.6
    10. Whooping Crane – 10.8
    There are several other species that are more endangered as they from a monotypic genus: the sand skink, red hill salamander, and the Alabama cave fish. Total spending on any one is less than $10,000 dollars a year. Seems strange, the correlation between an animal being “cute & fuzzy” seems to be positively correlated with a much higher level of spending. Perhaps the Bush administration needs to “bully” the FWS a little more in order to protect the non-cute & fuzzy genotype instead.

  6. Floyd says:

    5: I know a bit about the Alabama Cave Fish. Protection for that species was a matter of gating the only cave it’s found in, and buying the land that feeds the stream the fish is found in. This was all completed in the 1970s.

    In short, protection for some species can be fairly inexpensive. chances are the Bushies (and other administrations) spend more on the Bald Eagle because it’s our national symbol, and so saving that eagle has been high priority for a long time. True of the rest of the species in the list…

  7. tallwookie says:

    PS: If a bird has a “nesting range” within 5 miles of a proposed oli/natural gas site, decrease to .001 😛

  8. Todd says:

    What “confidential information” could the Interior Department possibly have concerning wildlife? Shouldn’t everything not related to national security be open. FOIA? People and organizations have every right to see the data leading up to policy decisions before the policy is made.

    #3 – Everyone, including those in government, bend facts to their opinion. All sides and perspectives. Always determine why the person is saying this or that must be done. On one hand you can have an over-zealous person wanting everything pro-conservation. On the other hand, you might need to follow the money to see how a person or group stands to profit.

    #4 – Right on! Trust no one in power!

  9. MikeN says:

    Wow, so they’re doing it too now? It used to be just environmental groups getting secret data on testing so they could fool the testers into thinking animals were in a certain area, shutting off development. Not sure what private groups would do to get the opposite effect, but maybe they’ve figured something out.

  10. TJGeezer says:

    9 – So therefore environmental groups aren’t private? News to me.

    As for what the “private groups” you mention could do to get the opposite effect, that’s pretty obvious. Buy a few members of congress and send money to the Bushies. Probably wouldn’t hurt to buy some illegal drugs for Rush Limbaugh, either.

  11. MikeN says:

    Apparently English isn’t your first language. I didn’t imply enviro groups weren’t private, I said I wasn’t sure how to get the opposite effect, that is making use of confidential info to reduce regulation.

  12. noname says:

    The public elected him twice; thinking George W. Bush was particularly honourable. GW proclaimed himself a born-again Christian whose “favourite philosopher” is Jesus, and the public loved it. Just like some of the commentators above loving the various lies, because it suits their purpose.

    Words really are mightier then swords, GW lies, who knew?

    Besides the public being ever dumb to verifiable and testable truths, how does GW live with himself?


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