CAUSE OF ACTION FILES DATA QUALITY COMPLAINT AGAINST NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Faulty, Inaccurate, and Misleading Information Being Used to Shut Down California Family Business
WASHINGTON – Cause of Action, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting federal overreach, today filed a Data Quality Act complaint before the National Park Service for its intentional use of inaccurate, nontransparent, and deliberately misleading information in an attempt to deny a renewable permit to a California family business for use of national park territory.
When Kevin and Nancy Lunny’s permit, which allows their family business, Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC), to farm oysters in the Point Reyes National Seashore, expires in November, over two dozen Californians will lose their jobs, and DBOC, which has been operating for many years, will be forced to shut down, thereby cutting off a substantial amount of the Bay Area’s commercial oyster supply.
“The National Park Service should not be allowed to get away with using bad data to justify closing a small business,” said Amber Abbasi, chief regulatory counsel at Cause of Action. “The evidence clearly shows how NPS, despite being called out by another federal agency and a credible member of the National Academy of Sciences, is using junk science to bully a family business into shutting down. We’ve sent a complaint to the NPS urging them to adhere to their own information-quality standards for the use of scientific information and correct the Final Environmental Impact Statement. NPS needs to make clear that a neutral scientific analysis reveals that DBOC does not adversely impact the environment in Drakes Estero.”
Cause of Action filed the Data Quality Act Complaint with the National Park Service (NPS) on behalf of the Lunnys as well as National Academy of Sciences member and former Evan Rauch Chair of Neurobiology at the University of California Dr. Corey Goodman, who found substantial inaccuracies in the National Park Service, Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit (DEIS) and the March 2012 Atkins Peer Review Report put out by NPS.
Among the examples of inaccurate data NPS used against DBOC are the following:
NPS Claim: DBOC Causes a “Major Impact” to Soundscape.
Facts: NPS never took on-site measurements of noise generated by DBOC’s equipment. Instead, the DEIS used data from an obscure 1995 study, claiming this data was “representative” of noise generated by DBOC’s equipment in 2012.
- DBOC uses a 20 horsepower (HP) and a 40 HP oyster boat.
- But NPS cited fast high-horsepower racing and police patrol boats and 70 HP-plus jet skis operating at full throttle off of the New Jersey coast.
NPS Claim: DBOC Causes an “Adverse Impact” to Harbor Seals, Birds and Bird Habitat, or Visitor Experience and Recreation.
- NPS ignores its own 281,000 time- and date-stamped photographs taken over a three-year period, none of which indicate that DBOC has an impact on Drakes Estero’s harbor seal colony.
- NPS does not discuss highly probative, credible data—including on-site sound recordings captured by a sophisticated government microphone; NPS photographs, video recordings, and detailed logs; and GPS data—that contradict factual statements, data, and analysis in the DEIS.
Additionally, at least one other federal agency has found that the NPS has misused science to advance the public policy goals of certain NPS employees:
- NPS’s improper treatment of those photographs was the subject of an investigation by the Department of the Interior that resulted in a finding of “administrative misconduct.”