30 Jun 1999 June 30, 1999
* Should Our Standards for Science Be Lower Than for Government?
* Elderly Woman Swimming Upstream, Thanks to Salmon Regulations
Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) agreed to an out-of-court settlement with Jim Beers, a biologist the FWS tried to oust from his job after he refused to go along with a plan to divert fish and game funds to animal rights activists. Beer will receive $150,000, 168 hours of annual leave, attorney’s fees and a letter of apology from the agency. Beer’s story first came to public attention thanks to the efforts of the Virginia-based National Wilderness Institute (NWI), which has been investigating FWS mismanagement for more than a year. Investigators learned that a portion of Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Act monies – which are supposed to go almost entirely to state fish and wildlife departments for conservation efforts – instead ended up in the "Director’s Conservation Fund." Investigators have branded the account a "slush fund." NWI has also been championing the cause of FWS computer security specialist Bonnie Kline, whose security clearance was withdrawn and regular duties down-graded after she disobeyed an order to be uncooperative in an administrative court hearing investigation. For more information, contact Rob Gordon of NWI at 703/836-7404 or visit their web site at http://www.nwi.org.
For more than 30 years, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has helped the American people hold federal officials accountable for their actions by granting them access to government documents that might otherwise have been hidden from public view. It wasn’t until last year, however, that this law applied to government-funded scientific research. During the waning days of the last Congress, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) successfully attached an amendment to the 1999 omnibus spending law subjecting research developed under government contracts — except research affecting national security, commercial data, trade secrets, medical and personnel records, law enforcement information and geological data — to FOIA.
The FOIA requirement is important because research data is used by the federal government to develop and defend federal policies, findings and regulations. Prior to approval of the Shelby amendment, members of the public who objected to these policies or wanted to challenge them in court couldn’t examine the science the government claimed justified their policies and rules.
Now Representatives James Walsh (R-NY) and David Price (D-NC) want to repeal the Shelby amendment. They apparently believe that government-funded science should be subject to even less rigorous scrutiny than federal agencies. Under normal circumstances, the Walsh/Price initiative, which is expected to go to a vote after Congress’ July 4 recess, could be expected to go down to a crushing defeat. After all, the Shelby Amendment protects the public’s right-to-know and was thus a "good government" initiative. But these are not normal circumstances: Eager to preserve their privileges and limit their responsibilities, universities – which are the largest employers in some congressional districts – have been lobbying Members of Congress hard on behalf of the Walsh/Price bill. For more information, contact David Ridenour at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected], or visit http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA237.html.
For seven years, Viola Allen, an ailing 72-year-old widow, has desperately tried to sell her 8-acre property in Lynnwood, Washington to raise enough money to move out of her dilapidated house.
Viola suffers from emphysema and must stay on oxygen all day. Her house is in such poor condition that every time it rains – which is often in the Pacific Northwest – her basement floods. The resulting mildew worsens her medical condition.
But local environmentalists have blocked Viola from selling the land by claiming that Tunnel Creek that runs through her property is vital salmon habitat. This is a little hard to believe, however, as Tunnel Creek is completely dry in the summer and has only a tiny trickle of water in the winter. Notes Viola, "If salmon are going to get to Tunnel Creek, they would have to sprout legs and walk up here."
Nevertheless, for now at least, Viola can’t sell the land. It’s not just the salmon that are swimming upstream.
For more information, contact John Carlisle at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected].
New Releases from The National Center for Public Policy Research
* Federal Court’s Decision to Strike Down Air Standards Will Save Lives. National Policy Analysis #248 shows how the EPA’s more stringent air quality standards would have placed America lives at risk. Copies may be obtained at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA248.html.
* The Campaign Against Urban Sprawl: Declaring War on the American Dream. National Policy Analysis #239 explains why the Clinton Administration’s urban sprawl policies would create problems where none currently exist. Copies may be obtained at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA239.html.
* Supreme Court and Congress Act Against Junk Science. National Policy Analysis #237 explains the data access issue and also examines a recent Supreme Court decision that will have an impact on the testimony of expert witnesses. Copies may be obtained at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA237.html.
For copies of any of the above publications, contact David Almasi of The National Center for Public Policy Research at (202) 507-6398 x106.
All editorial correspondence to The Relief Report should be directed to: The National Center for Public Policy Research * 20 F Street, NW #700 * Washington, D.C. 20001 * (202) 507-6398 * Fax (301) 498-1301 * E-mail [email protected] * Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. Copyright 1999, The National Center for Public Policy Research. Coverage of meetings, activities or statements in the Relief Report does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of material in the Relief Report permitted provided source is credited. To receive all National Center newsletters free by e-mail, visit http://www.nationalcenter.org or send an e-mail to: mailing [email protected].