May 23, 2019

SHOCK: NR House Committee Discovers “Post-Normal” Science in ESA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 15, 2014

Committee Report Uncovers Lack of Independence & Accountability of Peer Review Process for ESA Listing Decisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee majority staff released a report today that questions the independence and accountability of the peer review process in recent Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions. The report entitled, “Under the Microscope: An examination of the questionable science and lack of independent peer review in Endangered Species Act listing decisions” studies the federal government’s peer review process for 13 different ESA listing decisions made by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) since July 2013. The report found numerous examples of potential bias and conflicts of interests with the peer reviewers and a lack of transparency and consistency in the peer
review process.

“The decision of whether or not to list a species under the Endangered Species Act has significant implications for the economy and livelihoods of impacted communities and private landowners. As such, these important decisions must be based on sound science that has undergone an independent peer review. This report raises troubling concerns about the lack of independence of the peer review process and whether many current, upcoming or recently finalized listing decisions, such as the White Bluffs Bladderpod in my Central Washington district, are scientifically sound,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). “With hundreds of ESA listings driven by this Administration’s closed-door settlements with litigious groups, discovery of any potential bias about how ESA data and science are reviewed casts serious doubt on the credibility of these decisions, and provides more evidence that the ESA needs continued oversight and updating.”

Specific findings of the report include:

* The FWS does not have clear or consistent policies and procedures in place across all Regions to ensure that peer reviewers with potential conflicts of interest are identified and screened;

* The FWS generally seeks peer review of its proposed listing decisions at the same time they are made available for public comment, rather than earlier in the process when the peer reviewers may have more meaningful input;

* The FWS regularly recruits the same scientists on whose work a listing decision is based to serve as peer reviewers, including those who have known policy positions or affiliations with advocacy groups that support the listing decision, rather than truly independent scientists;

* The FWS uses scientists as peer reviewers who have received grants or other financial assistance from the Department of the Interior and its bureaus and other agencies; and

* The FWS routinely withholds from the public the identities of peer reviewers, qualifications of peer reviewers, and details about their comments.

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Obama Administration Refuses to Allow Public More Time to Weigh-in on President Obama’s Plan to Zone the Oceans

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2012 – House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today received notice from the Obama Administration that they will not agree to his request for a 90-day extension of the public comment period on the draft National Ocean Policy Implementation plan.

“President Obama issued an Executive Order imposing a new bureaucracy to zone the oceans that threatens to deter new economic investment, suppress job creation, restrict even recreational fishing, block energy development, and stretch far from the shore to affect farmers and inland communities. Given the high economic stakes, the vast amounts of new red-tape set to be unrolled, and the fact that some 15 agencies spent over two years devising this scheme, it’s unreasonable that the Obama Administration won’t allow the American people more than just 75 days to review and comment on it. This refusal to allow a thorough and open review of the plan to carry-out the President’s Executive Order is another example of the Obama Administration prioritizing their job-destroying agenda over the livelihoods of Americans from coast to coast,” said Chairman Hastings.

Despite several hearings and additional requests for more information, the Administration continues to refuse to tell Congress what programs they are cutting to provide the money to fund this new bureaucracy. The Administration has also failed to comply with requests for information regarding funding and staffing to implement the National Ocean Policy and a copy of any budget planning memoranda, drafts, and other guidance related to the development or implementation of the National Ocean Policy that was provided to federal agencies or departments for developing their FY 2013 and FY 2014 budget proposals.

In the hopes that more time might allow the Administration to provide budget information as well as provide more time for affected stakeholder groups to comment on the overall plan, Chairman Hastings first requested a 90-day extension in a letter sent to the co-chairs of President Obama’s National Ocean Council on February 23, 2012. This request was refused and only an additional 30 days were provided. A follow-up letter was sent on March 20, 2012 to once again request that the public comment period on the draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan be extended for a full 90 days.

The deadline for this information was March 26, 2012.

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