Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Inspector General finds political appointees meddled with scientific reports at Interior

In the New York Times coverage, Charles Savage reports that inspector general Earl E. Devaney delivered his report to Congress on December 12. The report found "serious flaws" in the processes leading to more than a dozen decisions regarding the designation (or lack thereof) of endangered species. Savage's story quotes Nick J. Rahall II, Democrat of West Virginia, who is chair of the Natural Resources Committee:

“The results of this investigation paint a picture of something akin to a secret society residing within the Interior Department that was colluding to undermine the protection of endangered wildlife and covering for one another’s misdeeds.”
The inspector general's report was particularly critical of the conduct of Julie MacDonald, a former deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, although it did not accuse her of any illegality.

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.”

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