Letter sought on ESA Decisions Regarding Salmon Loss

FYI: I thought you might be interested, if you’ve not seen this.

Have a wonderful weekend,

The Endangered Species Coalition is circulating a letter asking the Environment and Public Works Committee in the U.S. Senate to hold hearings on political interference in ESA decisions. The letter is attached. I think this is most important in light of the current Bay-Delta Crash as well as the salmon problem. It was the two BiOp, one on smelt and one on salmon that provided the state and feds the OK to move forward with increased diversions from the Delta. Had the federal agencies stayed with the biological recommendation of "jeopardy", it would have forced DWR and BOR to find other ways to meet water demands, or cut back commitments (contracts). The purpose of the hearings would be for the Senate to look deeper into the problems at FWS and Commerce, and to consider what can be done to stop land/water use actions based upon illegal ESA decisions.

I invite EWC groups to sign onto this letter. Please send me your organizational signature block at: summerhillfarmpv@aol.com. Thank you for your help,

Dr. C. Mark Rockwell, D.C.
Calif. State Coordinator
Endangered Species Coalition
19737 Wildwood West Dr.
Penn Valley, Ca. 95946

The Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) is a national network of 380 conservation, scientific, religious, sporting, humane, business and community groups across the country. Through public education, scientific information and citizen participation, we work to protect our nation’s wildlife and wild places. The ESC is a non-partisan coalition working with concerned citizens and decision makers from all parties to protect endangered species and habitat.

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Chair, Committee on Environment and Public Works
410 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

RE:  EPW Hearing on Protecting the Integrity of Science in Implementing the Endangered Species Act.

Dear Madam Chairwoman:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations and the millions of members we represent nationwide, we write to request that the Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee hold an oversight hearing to investigate the abuse of science in the Bush Administration’s implementation of the Endangered Species Act.

Abuse of science and undermining of endangered species protections continues at the Department of Interior.  Although some tainted decisions will be reviewed, scientists and conservation organizations continue to uncover evidence of manipulation for up to 50 endangered species listing, critical habitat, recovery plan and other decisions.  While the administration delays a thorough investigation, many timber sales, oil and gas leases, and other land and water management decisions are moving forward based on these compromised decisions. By acting now, Congress may be able to reinstate protections for our nation’s disappearing wildlife and wild lands.

Last year, much attention was focused on former Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald’s political meddling in what should be scientific determinations under the Endangered Species Act.  Since her resignation, Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the need to revise seven tainted endangered species decisions, which we believe are just the tip of the iceberg.  Further investigations have been launched by the Department of Interior Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office and include a larger number of affected species.

While these investigations and the revisions to the seven decisions are underway, land and water use decisions continue to be made based on the tainted decisions – potentially leading to irreparable harm to these species. A hearing by the EPW committee is needed to help hold the administration accountable for their implementation of the Endangered Species Act and to identify how these tainted decisions continue to jeopardize the survival of threatened and endangered fish, plants and wildlife.

Specifically, we would hope to accomplish these goals with your committee’s hearing:
l Increased understanding of the political interference and ramifications that it may have on our nation’s most at-risk fish, plants and wildlife.  We would welcome the opportunity to work with the committee to secure testimony from scientists and experts who can demonstrate some of the many ways this interference occurred and how it has altered endangered species protections.
l Identify imminent land and water management decisions that have relied on tainted decisions, which now may further jeopardize species survival.    This urgent need could perhaps best be met by asking the Secretary of Interior in preparation for the hearing to identify the land and water management decisions currently being developed that are likely to be affected by these suspect ESA decisions.  Obtaining this information is critical to ensuring that these decisions can be halted until the proper endandegered species protections can be restored.
l Identify how the Department of Interior plans to handle all future relevant management decisions until every tainted decision has been revised properly.  The Fish and Wildlife Service does not plan to revise all seven tainted decisions for two years and the ongoing investigations may  warrant further actions.  The hearing could be instrumental in identifying the philosophy the Department of Interior will use in protecting resources from potentially illegal harm pending the completion of reviews by the Inspector General, the GAO, and the Secretary.

The EPW committee is in a powerful position to help protect our nation’s endangered fish, plants and animals.  We urge you to please do so.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.