Unbelievable! But no amount of abuse of people or resources shocks me in Alaska after what I have been through. This lack of scientific analysis proves corporate oil interests and powers in Alaska are pulling the strings. Those making the decisions at MMS(Mineral Management Services) could care less what the scientists have to say as usual. Are there ethics anywhere in this state? Yes, the scientists who have exposed this story have shown there still are some who believe in the use of facts to carefully manage our resources. The resources of this state do not belong to the oil companies and the interests tied to them. The decision to allow offshore drilling needs to be blocked until the real scientific information can be reviewed. Those responsible should be investigated and replaced. Our current governor acts as if Sarah Palin has some kind of implant in his brain so she can control his actions, so I doubt that will happen unless the federal government has some power to intervene.

When the announcement was made to allow offshore drilling I was surprised at the almost dead silence about it because it just made no sense at all. I assumed it was due to many people in Alaska being more pro-money/jobs than pro-environment. I wonder who appoints the people to sit on the MMS at the state level? John Goll the regional director seems to have been around for quite a while. The scientists have been leaving MMS like rats off of a sinking ship for years. Are we going to hear Parnell whining about the federal government trying to control what goes on in Alaska? Parnell just wants no oversight so corrupt practices can continue in many areas. Did the old quittin Palin leave Parnell holding the bag on this one?

The Bush administration worked to get drilling opened up in protected areas of Alaska. Many in Alaska have continued to promote the same non-scientific practices of just doing what they damn well please without regard for consequences, the Wolf slaughtering proves that. The Obama administration has done next to nothing about this type of promotion of ignorance in government agencies to manipulate information in the favor of corporations.

 Where were our senators? Was Murkowski a part of it? Was Begich out of the loop and believed them? Why would anyone believe an agency in this state? The information agencies in Alaska put out is for public consumption to make you think they are doing one thing while they do another, just like the DOC's policies about prisoners saying one thing while they do the exact opposite of the policy in reality.

From the ADN:
November 19th, 2009

Emilie Surrusco, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Wilderness League, which opposes offshore drilling, said she hoped Shell was not getting preferential from the Minerals Management Service, where workers have been reprimanded for partying, having sex and using drugs with oil and gas industry representatives, as well as accepting gifts from them. A former MMS employee was sentenced to probation this year for failing to report a $2,500 hunting trip he received from an oil industry contractor while working in the scandal-ridden agency, which regulates oil and gas operations on leased federal property.

This is the same crap that went on in Texas decades ago, is that what Alaska wants? H. L. Hunt a Texas oilman was the richest man in the world in the 1960s, "I didn't go to high school, and I didn't go to grade school either. Education, I think, is for refinement and is probably a liability", "Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work." I guess some people have established their priorities and decided what they will do to get what they want. Oil men like Hunt used their money that they paid little tax on to fund right wing propaganda and put politicians in office that supported their agenda. It has had a lasting effect on the state. As everyone knows they have people printing revisionist history books now in Texas and Alaska is educationally challenged.
Check out the GAO report.

From NYT:

"GAO confirmed what we have known all along, there is something rotten in Alaska," said Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League. "Good decision making requires solid information, and that has been missing from the Alaska MMS decisionmaking for some time. Now it turns out that MMS intentionally kept key information from its own experts. This is outrageous."

Newsletters from PEERS, showing some of the background:
Interior Cooking Books on Alaska Offshore Eco-Analysis

Interior Had Critical GAO Report Weeks before Unveiling Offshore Drilling Plans
April 7, 2010WASHINGTON - April 7 - Scientists are subjected to U.S. Interior Department management practices that “hindered their ability to complete sound environmental analyses” in reviewing Alaskan offshore drilling projects, according to a Government Accountability Office report released today. The report confirms scientists’ accounts channeled through Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that Interior managers routinely “suppressed” critical findings on issues ranging from the likelihood of oil spills to acoustic damage to whales to introduction of invasive species.

Top Interior Department officials have had this critical GAO report for several weeks before the agency unveiled a major expansion of offshore drilling in coastal waters, including the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf (OCS0 last week. While the Interior Department in its comments stated that it agreed with the GAO report, it has left the same management structure that obstructed honest reviews in charge of its Alaska offshore projects. The GAO report made several critical findings, including:

• Management pressure resulted in scientific reviews of the environmental impacts of Alaskan offshore oil drilling that were so incomplete that they have been largely invalidated in court rulings in lawsuits brought by environmentalists;

Scientists were under pressure to churn out reviews that omitted important environmental concerns. In reaction, many scientists left the Alaska OCS Office of the Minerals Management Service, the Interior Department agency issuing offshore drilling permits. “From 2003 to 2008, 11 to 50 percent of the analysts in that section left each year,” according to the report; and

Interior officials allowed scientists access to project data only on a “need to know” basis in order to protect what they believed to be the proprietary nature of oil industry information.

“If the same managers who manipulated and suppressed scientific evaluations are still in charge, why should the public expect candid assessments of environmental impacts to suddenly begin?” asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization’s previous disclosures of scientists’ complaints triggered the GAO report.. “It is unsettling that Interior Department officials sat on this scathing GAO report and did not mention any aspect of it when they blithely announced their ambitious offshore drilling agenda just days ago.”

Despite promises to address problems, rules issued by the Interior Department in 2010 leave the oil companies in charge of what information scientists can share. As a result, it will remain difficult to prevent recurrences of the misconduct that GAO detailed, since all of the relevant material will be classified as “proprietary” and thus beyond the public’s view.

Another problem is that a directive by President Obama in March 2009 to develop scientific integrity and transparency policies, including whistleblower protection, appears to have been abandoned. The White House was supposed to unveil draft rules for agencies back in July 2009 but those rules never emerged and their status remains cloudy, at best.

Scientists remain as vulnerable to political pressure today in the Obama administration as they did under Bush,” Ruch added. “Without accountability for past abuses, it is difficult to take pledges of reform seriously.”

February 4, 2008

LEAKED E-MAILS MAY SINK ARCTIC OFFSHORE LEASE SALES — Officials Scramble to Suppress Scientific Dissent over Bush Arctic Oil Initiative

Washington, DC — The Interior Department is scrambling to stanch the flow of internal e-mails from its own scientists that undermine the legality of its aggressive offshore oil and gas lease sales in federal Arctic waters, according to correspondence released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The e-mails belie Bush administration claims that environmental risks were adequately considered prior to offering tracts in the Chukchi, Beaufort and Bering Seas for drilling.

During the past three weeks, PEER has released a series of internal e-mails from current and former Interior scientists raising troubling questions about how badly environmental assessments of Arctic offshore oil development were skewed. These e-mails have fueled two new lawsuits in the past week that threaten to stymie new lease sales and lend further support to ongoing litigation against earlier lease sales.

Reflecting mounting concern about the legal consequences of this growing stream of internal e-mails that contradict official pronouncements, Jeffery Loman, the Deputy Regional Director for Interior’s Minerals Management Service, in a January 31, 2008 e-mail to all employees sought to limit further damage:

“…we have been directed to refrain from discussing the PEER press releases and the e-mail messages with anyone outside our organization including any representative with the media.”

Interior’s lawyers, meanwhile, are trying to prevent further releases of incriminating e-mails. In a letter dated January 29, 2008, Associate Interior Solicitor Arthur Gary wrote to PEER –

“…we request that you immediately cease your unauthorized publication of these privileged communications and return them to MMS [Minerals Management Service], along with other MMS communications or documents in your possession that MMS has not authorized for disclosure.”

“PEER has every intention of continuing to publish e-mails and other internal documents that anguished scientists have provided to us,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the e-mails show official misconduct and, as such, are shielded by the Whistleblower Protection Act, among other statutes. “There are a lot more disclosures to come; agency specialists have sent in enough material to start a CD collection.”

Lawsuits brought by Native communities and conservation groups contend that Interior failed to honestly reflect oil spill dangers and negative effects on endangered marine life, such as bowhead whales, as well as on polar bear populations struggling to cope with shrinking sea ice due to global warming. Another lawsuit filed last week charges that Interior is improperly withholding thousands of documents, primarily internal e-mails, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

January 19, 2010

NEW SCIENCE RULES FOR OFFSHORE DRILLING SEND MIXED MESSAGE — MMS “Transparency” Mandate Riddled with Welter of Non-Release CategoriesCongress should hear directly from the agency scientists whose work was altered or axed altogether,” Ruch added, noting that much of the congressional attention has been focused on the delays in the decision whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. “The Bush administration oil rush in the Arctic is lubricated by systematic scientific fraud.”

Washington, DC — The federal agency responsible for approving offshore drilling, wind and other deep-water energy developments has issued a new code of scientific conduct that appears to promote secrecy while touting the value of transparency, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The net result is that scientists working on controversial ocean-based energy projects will be unable to obtain independent review of industry submittals.

The new “Integrity and Code of Conduct for Science, Scientific Assessment, and Other Similar Technical Activities” was unveiled by the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) in an all-employee e-mail on January 8, 2010. It covers that agency’s branch for Offshore Energy and Minerals Management.

The action seems to be a reaction to abuses under the Bush administration which suppressed protests from MMS and other agency scientists about how badly environmental assessments of Arctic offshore oil plans were skewed. The failure of MMS to openly analyze suppressed scientific concerns – on issues ranging from the effect of oil spills to the introduction of invasive species – resulted in court decisions striking down agency drilling plans and schedules for sensitive Arctic tracts.

This new scientific code of conduct, however, sends decidedly mixed messages about what may or may not be released by scientists. On one hand, the code declares “Science, scientific assessment and other similar technical activities shall be conducted with the fullest transparency allowed by law, from the planning stages through completion of the work.” On the other hand, the code forbids disclosure of any information by scientists contrary to –

“agreements between MMS and its partners [i.e., oil companies] relating to use, security, and release of sensitive, confidential, proprietary, and administratively controlled, deliberative or personally identifiable information and data provided to the MMS.”

This scientific code leaves the oil industry in charge of what information the public may see about development of the Arctic,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the vast majority of data consists of industry submittals, estimates and monitoring reports. “An MMS scientist would also have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to know what he or she could publish or disclose under this new code.”

The transmittal memo for the new code states that “MMS can now join the list of other DOI Bureaus who have established and released comparable guidelines.” Yet, the MMS code stands in stark contrast to the policy recently promulgated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, another Interior agency, guaranteeing its scientists the right to publish without any prior “policy review.” The MMS code also does not incorporate elements of President Obama’s scientific integrity policy, such as whistleblower protection for scientists.

“Significantly, MMS compiled its new ‘integrity’ code in secret, without involving the public or its own line scientists,” added Ruch. “We need a government-wide overhaul of information access to prevent industry-friendly agencies from shielding data the public should see.”

One big difference from past efforts, however, is that the new code applies not only to scientists but also to “decisionmakers” who engage in “coercive manipulation” or other misconduct. Unfortunately, the code has no enforcement mechanism to ensure that agency managers would be punished for improperly altering scientific reports.

May 12, 2009

WHITE HOUSE GRAPPLES WITH HOW TO ENSURE SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY — New Whistleblower Protections and Other Rules Slated for President’s Desk by July

Washington, DC — The Obama administration is taking its first step toward its stated aim of outlawing political manipulation of federal science, according to public comments filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is asking for ideas on how to implement a presidential directive to protect scientific integrity.

Under the Bush administration, cases of political alteration of scientific documents on topics ranging from global warming to grazing became notorious, resulting in a parade of adverse court rulings, embarrassing reports and media exposés. In the 2008 election, presidential candidates from both parties decried the practice of political appointees skewing scientific findings to suit pre-determined ends.

On March 9, 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Memorandum to all federal departments and agencies declaring his intent to adopt policies that protect scientific integrity. That order directs his OSTP to develop proposed policies for Presidential action by July 9, 2009. On April 23rd, OSTP issued a notice in the Federal Register calling for public comments on how to best implement this goal. The deadline for public comments is tomorrow, Wednesday, May 13th.

In public comments filed today, PEER underscores that there are currently no rules forbidding alteration of scientific conclusions for non-scientific reasons: “The main reason the Bush administration was able to politically manipulate science was that there is no rule against it.” PEER recommends that the Obama Administration adopt government-wide rules forbidding political interference with science, including –

•New transparency rules allowing scientists and other specialists to freely speak and write, as well as to communicate directly with Congress and the media. In addition, professional scientific societies should be able to work with scientists and agencies on studies within their disciplines;

•Disciplinary action against government managers, especially political appointees, who twist or suppress scientific findings. PEER urges the Obama administration to hold officials to account when they sign off on decisions found by courts to violate legal standards of scientific accuracy or sufficiency, as under many environmental statutes, such as the Endangered Species Act; and

•Whistleblower protection for scientists and technical specialists who today largely lack any legal shield against on-the-job retaliation for reporting politically inconvenient facts.

“To stop political manipulation of science, particularly on high-profile issues, scientific integrity rules must have teeth in the form of enforceability,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Another key measure of the effectiveness of new rules will be the willingness of the Obama administration to hold its own appointees accountable.”

Congress is now considering legislation to extend whistleblower protection, for the first time, to scientists. PEER is urging Congress to enact a broader package of scientific integrity rules so that the safeguards will continue beyond the current administration.

Apparently this is yet another promise that was not fulfilled. I tried to be a whistleblower myself under the Bush administration twice and I was retaliated against.

Extra coding removed, with emphasis added by me.

MMS organizational chart.

1 comment:

EyeOnYou said...

Excellent Write Up!
Thanks for doing this.