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Back in December of 2012 we noted federal government efforts, headed by then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, to eliminate a longstanding oyster farm on the California coast, even though the small operation caused no environmental damage and kept 30 people employed. The Sierra Club and California Senator Barbara Boxer applauded Salazar’s move, but Senator Dianne Feinstein decried a flawed review process that advanced “false and misleading science.” As Michael Bastach observed in the Daily Caller, the government continued to deploy false science for the same destructive purpose.
The federal National Park Service charged that the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which had operated in the Point Reyes National Seashore for decades, was to blame for an 80 percent decline in the local population of harbor seals. Park Service bosses also blamed the farm, operated by Ken Lunny and his family, for upsetting the ecological balance of Drakes Estero. These charges turned out to be completely false, but the agency continued to make false claims. It used data from a sixty-year-old study from the Sea of Japan, and substituted jet-ski noise from New Jersey for the impact of Lunny’s small outboard motors.
Mr. Lunny told the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that the National Park Service “engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes.” It falsified data, but “no one has apologized” for doing so. Lunny appealed to higher-ups at the agency and finally took the matter to the Secretary of the Interior.
“No one, at any level, was willing to admit that false science was being used against us,” he testified.
The inspector general of the Interior Department found misconduct, but as Bastach notes, the IG “was powerless to stop Parks Service officials from attacking Lunny’s business.” An axis of false science and regulatory zealotry forced the family to shut down.
This “unconscionable” action, as Mr. Lunny called it, confirms that the federal government is too big, too abusive, and far too unaccountable.