Though we once got a promise to restore science to its rightful place, instead it looks more and more of the same anti-science mentality we got from President Clinton in the 1990s: Catering to environmental fringe groups - even going to far as declaring a small oyster farm "heavy industry" in order to shut them down.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, as staunch a liberal as we can get, tried to take a stand for science and small business but was unable to prevent the Department of the Interior from "using scientifically unsound, and at times bizarre, tactics to prove the oyster farm had to go."
Feinstein pulled no punches in her assessment. "The Park Service has falsified and misrepresented data, hidden science and even promoted employees who knew about the falsehoods, all in an effort to advance a predetermined outcome against the oyster farm," she wrote to then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in March 2012. "It is my belief that the case against Drakes Bay Oyster Company is deceptive and potentially fraudulent.”
That is a Cabinet post. It is impossible that the president was not aware of it, especially after Senator Feinstein leveled that charge.
Salazar instead ignored science completely and manipulated reports and definitions to suit an environmental agenda. To add an outside voice, Feinstein asked for a National Academy of Sciences report and they concluded that Park Service scientists, in setting out to prove the farm was causing environmental harm, had "selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information" and “exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.”
An internal Interior Department investigation also found that Park Service scientists had “intentionally omitted the photographic research, in an effort to manipulate the outcome of [the NAS] report,” and were “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.”
Yet that was dismissed as "administrative" misconduct. Three of the Park Service employees that engaged in the fraud even got promoted.
What happened to the scientific results? The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hand-edited the reports to be completely different in their conclusion. We may never know what the science community would do if a Republican administration did that.
Wait, we do know. In 2004, the left-wing environmental advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists put out a petition demanding that science not be manipulated when the Bush administration did something far less egregious.
They called it "the Bush administration's unprecedented censorship, manipulation, and misrepresentation" when they were trying to get Democratic Senator John Kerry elected to replace Bush but about this insult to scientific integrity they have not had a single complaint.
Nor have they complained any other time. It isn't the first time the Obama administration has ignored science - with Keystone XL he keeps telling government scientists to do more studies until they create one that agrees with his personal belief (but promising to fast-track an extension over tribal burial grounds) and on Yucca Mountain he has even defied a federal court order to make a decision regarding the application. What has he done with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in response? He placed an anti-Yucca Mountain activist with no knowledge of nuclear energy in charge of it and one of the staffers is...the former head of Union of Concerned Scientists.
So it is understandable why Union of Concerned Scientists is not critical of the Obama administration. They are all hoping to get jobs working for him too. Left-wing sites like Huffington Post have been critical, though.
The BP oil spill report that was edited by the Obama administration got howls from the scientists who wrote it but from the broad science community there has been no outrage. There should have been, and should be, if science media wants to be regarded as trusted guides for the public on complex issues.
On the positive side, it is nice to know that the President doesn't just ignore Republicans in Congress, he is equally opportunity dismissive of female Democrats in the Senate.
The Oyster Shell Game By Michael Ames, Newsweek. H/T Real Clear Science