April 29, 2015
Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing titled “Zero Accountability: The Consequences of Politically Driven Science,
” during which the subcommittee heard witness testimony on the use of selective science by federal agencies and its impacts on the health, safety and livelihoods of Americans.
Subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) opened
, “I want it seared on the records of this Congress and on the minds of its Members exactly what happens when we leave individuals to fend for themselves against this federal government. Why else are we here if not to hold accountable those charged with executing the laws that we establish?”
Kevin Lunny, who owned the Drakes Bay Oyster Company in Point Reyes, California, told his story
about how the National Park Service (NPS) bullied him for years. Kevin’s family purchased the oyster operation and the lease that was set to expire in 2012 without an approved renewal from the NPS. In 2006, the NPS – through a series of critical reports and statements – began to build its case against the farm, with inaccurate claims that it had a negative impact on the resources of the park.
During the following exchange
with Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Lunny reiterated his concerns on the relationship between the ranching community and the NPS, stating:
Lunny documented how the NPS repeatedly misrepresented the scientific record to depict the farm as environmentally harmful. These concerns were later vindicated by the Department of the Interior Inspector General, which found the NPS “misrepresented research.” Further, a review of the NPS’s activities by the National Academy of Sciences
found that one report “gave an interpretation of the science that exaggerated the negative and overlooked the beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation,” adding that the Service’s conduct “cast doubt on the agency’s credibility and motivation.”
Despite these developments, on December 31, 2014, the National Park Service forced the iconic eighty-year-old oyster farm to shut down.
“Let me be clear, we did not fail as a business. This was not bad luck. Rather, the Park Service engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes. Our family experienced the worst of what a motivated federal agency can do to a small business,” Lunny testified. “From the beginning of our stewardship of the farm, false science has been used as the primary tool to divide our community, intimidate government officials, and ostracize our family. Our family run oyster farm became ground zero for scientific misconduct in the United States.”
Read Kevin Lunny’s full testimony here
. More details on the hearing can be found here