August 23, 2019

Maine Ethics Commission Wants Transparency to End Bear Baiting

In reading an article in the Bangor Daily News, the article attempts to report that the Maine Ethics Commission wants more “transparency” when it comes to efforts by any government agency in the state participating in political activities. At issue here is the backlash from a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), in the middle of a campaign to end bear hunting, to try to stop the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) from participating against the referendum.

The result of the lawsuit was that it was legal for MDIFW to do what they were doing. However, the Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, a fake coalition that was comprised only of HSUS members, asked the Maine Ethics Commission to investigate. And so they did but didn’t have to.

The Ethics Commission is trying very hard here to paint themselves as investing the “ethics” of actions by the MDIFW because they did not disclose all associated costs of the campaign to the liking of the commission. But from what is written in this article, I have serious doubts that the Commission is all that interested in transparency as they are about ending the practice of allowing any government representative to participate in such future campaigns.

It seems really stupid to prohibit government departments, as a form and function of the greater administration, to silence their position on political events such as was the case with the bear referendum. Don’t the people want to know where an administration stands in such matters? One might understand the request that the MDIFW reveal all associated costs to participate in this campaign, under the laws of the state. The appearance of trying to hide something gets us into the function of an ethics panel. However, it seems to me the Ethics Commission is taking on the role of strong-arming the MDIFW by proposing legislation that would prohibit the practice of participation. This goes beyond any kind of transparency request about funding and delves into issues in which one would have to wonder if the Ethics Commission needs an ethics commission to investigate what they are doing.

It certainly appears to me that in a 4-1 vote, the commission is more interested in ending bear hunting during the next useless anti-human bear referendum that comes up, than anything much related to transparency.

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House Committee Claims Advancement Toward ESA Amendments

Some members of the House Natural Resources Committee are claiming at least 4 bills being sponsored are a step toward much needed Endangered Species Act reform. But is it really? The bills mostly call for “transparency” but no changes in how the Act is administered. Big deal!

The Endangered Species Act needs serious reforming in order to protect both humans, their rights and property and to protect all wildlife where practicable. Offering transparency so more people can more easily see who is screwing who does little to accomplish that. And true to the political mumbo-jumbo always being fed to the public, these bills are, “making headway to improve the ESA for both species and people.”

From the Western Livestock Journal Online:

“The four bills and their sponsors are as follows:

• H.R. 4315, 21st Century Endan gered Species Transparency Act; Doc Hastings (R-WA4);

• H.R. 4316, Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act; Cynthia Lummis (R-WY at large);

• H.R. 4317, State, Tribal, and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act; Randy Neugebauer (R-TX19); and

• H.R. 4318, Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act; Bill Huizenga (R-MI2).

All of the bills are tiny by usual governmental standards and overlap in content. Both H.R. 4315 and H.R. 4317 seek to amend the ESA to require the government to disclose information regarding listing decisions. H.R. 4315 would require that all information used in listing decisions be made public on the Internet, while H.R. 4317 would require the data used for listing decisions to be furnished to affected states, counties and tribes.

H.R. 4316 and H.R. 4318 focus on the lawsuits that often revolve around the ESA. Of the two, H.R. 4318 is the simplest, just seeking to amend the ESA to limit who can be awarded attorney fees from “any” to people and groups already listed in the U.S. Code. H.R. 4316, on the other hand, seeks to require the government to publish online the expenditures paid out to litigants regarding the ESA following each fiscal year. Though the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) is not directly mentioned, the language of the bill is reminiscent of bills attempting to amend the EAJA.”<<<Read More>>>

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House to Vote Today on ObamaCare Transparency Bill

The Administration is Holding Back Data About the ObamaCare Exchanges the Public Deserves to See, Says National Center for Public Policy Research

H.R. 3362, to Be Voted on Thursday, Would Require the Administration to Release More Data, Faster

“Much of the data probably reflects poorly on the ObamaCare exchanges. It’s time for President Obama to level with the American public and release it,” says National Center’s Dr. David Hogberg

Washington, DC – “There are still many things about the ObamaCare exchanges we don’t know because the Obama Administration finds it politically inconvenient to release the data,” says Dr. David Hogberg, health care expert and author of a new National Policy Analysis, “Rep. Lee Terry’s H.R. 3362 Counters Administration’s Refusal to Release Missing ObamaCare Exchanges Data,” published today, arguing that a bill before Congress, H.R. 3362, could force the Administration to release such data.

Dr. Hogberg, senior fellow for health care policy at the National Center For Public Policy Research, is available to offer comments for reporters and radio hosts on the data the Administration is holding back, on H.R. 3362, and other aspects of ObamaCare.

“To date we still don’t know how many people have had trouble signing up for a plan, how many people have actually paid a health insurance premium, or how much difficulty the Administration has had sending the proper information about enrollees to insurance companies,” says Dr. Hogberg.

“Recent history suggests that data reflects poorly on the ObamaCare exchanges and so the Administration won’t release it,” said Dr. Hogberg. “The Administration tries to release only data that’s politically convenient. When the data on the exchanges looks good, the Administration has no problem getting it out quickly.”

On January 16 the House will vote on H.R. 3362, the “Exchange Information Disclosure Act.” Introduced by Representative Lee Terry, it would require the Administration to release data on the number of people who have enrolled and actually paid a premium on their insurance, on the number of “unique visits” to HealthCare.gov, and how much difficulty people have had getting insurance through the exchange websites.

“President Obama should release this data on his own,” said Dr. Hogberg. “But since he won’t, Rep. Terry introduced H.R. 3362. Since it only requires that more data be released, a significant number of House Democrats could vote for it, and then Obama would have a hard time opposing it.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.
Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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Committee on Natural Resources: All Agree Need for Transparency in ESA Decisions



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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Natural Resources Committee held an oversight hearing on “Transparency and Sound Science Gone Extinct?:The Impacts of the Obama Administration’s Closed-Door Settlements on Endangered Species and People.” The hearing examined the need for data transparency as it relates to federal decisions on implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

This hearing was part of a series of hearings this Committee is holding to examine ways to ensure that the ESA is working efficiently and effectively for both people and species.

“Right now, there is a lack of transparency of data and science used in literally hundreds of sweeping listings and habitat designation decisions that affect both species and people. The Obama administration’s ESA-related actions – through executive orders, court settlements with litigious groups, and rules to list species – instead force regulatory actions that shut out Congress, states, local communities, private landowners – even scientists who may dispute the often sketchy or unverifiable data used for these decisions. It’s important to make sure this ESA listing data and how that data is collected is made available to those affected by the potential listings,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).

Witnesses at the hearing testified on the need for transparency in the species listing and critical habitat process specifically relating to the data used to proceed with listings and how settlement deadlines are motivating listings rather than science. All witnesses, including the Obama Administration, agreed on the need to make all data available to the public online.

Rob Roy Ramey II, Ph. D, who is an independent scientist, underscored the need for scientific integrity and transparency in data collection. “The American people pay for data collection and research on threatened and endangered species through grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and administration of research permits. They pay the salaries of agency staff who collect data, author, edit, and publish papers based upon those data. They, for the most part, are willingly regulated based on those data. It is essential that the American people have the right to full access to those data in a timely manner, as it is in the public interest. A requirement that data and methods be provided in sufficient detail to allow third party reproduction would raise the bar on the quality and reproducibility of the science used in ESA decisions and benefit species recovery. Failure to ensure this level of transparency will undermine the effectiveness of the very programs that the data were gathered for in the first place.”

Kent McMullen, Chairman of Washington’s Franklin County Natural Resources Advisory Committee, highlighted his firsthand accounts of the lack of public transparency given to local communities surrounding an ESA listing. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provided no notification to our local government jurisdiction (Franklin County Board of Commissioners) or to the thirteen landowners whose land fell within the proposed critical areas of habitat and moved forward with listing under the ESA. Certainly, this case of attempts to list the White Bluffs Bladderpods shows best available science has been avoided in favor of using consensus biodiversity conservation science to expedite compliance with the mega-settlement. It also points out the shortcomings purposely practiced to avoid notification to those impacted by ESA listings. Our DNA results clearly showed there was a 100% match to all plants and no gene variations whatsoever. Therefore, the White Bluffs Bladderpod is NOT a subspecies.”

Damien M. Schiff, Principal Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, called into question the transparency of how species are listed under the ESA. “Reasonable people can disagree about the utility and morality of the Endangered Species Act, but no one can legitimately approve of a less-than-transparent administration of the Act. Unfortunately, over the last several decades, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have implemented the Act in a way that puts agency policy ahead of the law and the best interests of the regulated public. Moreover, the agencies’ administration of the Act oftentimes bears no relationship to the best interests of protected species, but serves only to aggrandize government power or satisfy particularly litigious environmental groups. The last five years have simply exacerbated these odious practices.”

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