WashingtonU.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement in response to a Draft Environmental Impact Statement by the Department of the Interior related to continued commercial operations within the Drakes Estero:

“I am troubled by the Interior Department draft report released Friday evening regarding the possible extension of a lease by the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

"First, the Interior Department failed to delay release of this report in order to incorporate findings by the Marine Mammal Commission. Second, the report largely ignores the conclusion reached in 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences, that “there is a lack of strong scientific evidence that shellfish farming has major adverse ecological effects on Drake’s Estero.”

"The choice to ignore a quarter million Park Service photos of Drakes Estero, rather than simply disclose their limitations, is also troubling. Initially, the Park Service refused to disclose their existence. Now, the Park Service has acknowledged the photos but excluded them from consideration in the environmental report—even though they provide a record of the effects of oyster boats on harbor seals.

"Missteps by the National Park Service have fundamentally undermined its ability to accurately review this application. It is my hope that the final environmental report, and Secretary Salazar’s decision, will rely on objective findings from the National Academies of Science and the Marine Mammal Commission. I believe that course is the only way for the Park Service to salvage any credibility.”

###