Politics still reigns supreme in the Interior Department
In my experience, I would say that the Interior Department under Obama and Salazar is as bad or worse than under Bush and Kempthorne. Substantial changes need to be made to protect the environment and imperiled species.
It seems that Obama appointed Salazar simply because a westerner is traditionally appointed due to the fact that the West has most of the public lands. Well, as we can see with the Gulf oil spill and endangered species, there is much more to it than that. A Secretary of Interior needs to have a greater understanding of science rather than a simple understanding of politics and cattle ranching.
The report starts with this:
“The Department of the Interior (Interior) has never had, and currently operates without, a scientific integrity policy. Further, it has no requirement to track allegations of scientific misconduct, and its discipline and adverse action policy is deficient to the point that scientific misconduct deeds could go unpunished. Without sound policies to protect the scientific community and general public from potentially flawed scientific research, data, and publications, Interior’s reputation and its public trust are at risk.”
Here are a few examples cited by PEER
- Continued efforts inside the Minerals Management Service to stifle scientists who raise environmental concerns about offshore drilling, as documented in an April 2010 Government Accountability Office report;
- Endangered Species Act positions taken by the U.S. that fly in the face of the overwhelming weight of agency science, on issues ranging from the Florida panther to the sage grouse. As under Bush, conservation groups are able to prove in court that Obama agency stances are “arbitrary and capricious” for ignoring the best available science; and
- Interior’s ongoing hostility toward whistleblowers and continued reliance on “gag orders” and other restrictions on specialists candidly discussing problems or sharing data.
Interior Science Has Integrity Issues, Inspector General Says.
No Safeguards against Political Manipulation of Science despite Repeated Scandals
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility