A MARIN VOICE column (Jan. 26, "Is Feinstein's focus really on science?") makes a series of false claims and accusations about my efforts to ensure that the science supporting local projects is accurate.
My view is simple: Accurate, objective science should guide environmental policy, and when science has acknowledged problems, it should never be used to make decisions.
There is no guarantee that any given study is perfect, but we should all agree that decisions based on science we know to be flawed is a stark violation of the public trust.
This problem is central to the debate over the permit renewal for Drakes Bay Oyster Company, a family-owned oyster farm that employs 30 people and operates in an area where oysters have been cultivated for more than 70 years. And I have been persistent in my demands that bad science not be used in the renewal decision.
The National Park Service has made it extraordinarily difficult for the company's continued operation.
The crux of the problem is that the Park Service manipulated science while building a case that the business should be shuttered. And that's not just my opinion.
Three independent offices — the Interior Department's Inspector General, the National Academy of Sciences and the Interior Department's solicitor — uncovered errors and misrepresentations in the National Park Service's assessment of oyster farm operations.
In2009, the National Academy of Sciences found the Park Service had "selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information on potential impacts of the oyster mariculture operation."
The Park Service for years failed to turn over photographic evidence of activity in the bay, and even when the science was proven to be false, the Park Service offered no apology or explanation — the report was simply withdrawn.
There is no possible way those actions can be interpreted as responsible.
The column also called into question my requests for additional reviews of endangered fish in the Bay Delta and the biological opinions that influence how much water is pumped from the delta.
In this case, the results speak for themselves.
The National Academy of Sciences examined both biological opinions and found weaknesses in each. The review was so valuable that its recommendations, particularly those calling for additional flexibility in water pumping and better integration of the two biological opinions, are currently being implemented.
Since that time — and unrelated to my calls for stronger science — a federal court in California also found problems with both biological opinions and ordered the relevant agencies to review and revise their work before reissuing the opinions.
In the case of the salmon biological opinion, for example, the court ruled that the document was "arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful."
If the science had been better from the start, this might not have been necessary.
I refuse to apologize for holding government agencies responsible for their decisions and the effects those decisions have on Californians. The transparency that comes with scientific review is a good thing, even when it doesn't support an individual's agenda.
The author of the column wrote that my call for accurate, objective studies was a "ploy" and "corrupt." He should know better. Maintaining faith in studies with acknowledged flaws is always a mistake.
The best science possible should always be our goal, whether it's for the review of a family owned business that provides local jobs or reconsidering the effects of an environmental policy on endangered species.
Marin Voice: Best science should be our goal
Marin Independent Journal