Questionable alliances (2)

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the BDCP signed in August by State and federal water contractors, including the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Department of Water Resources, is coming in for serious scrutiny.

Regional congressional representatives Jerry McNerney, George Miller, Mike Thompson, Doris Matsui and John Garamendi told U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that the MOA “offers the signatories unprecedented influence over the process, and it raises expectations of favorable outcomes.”  For one thing, the MOA reportedly gives water users control over selection of scientists working on the plan and editorial control over the content.

Earlier this month, members of a House subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing titled, “The Endangered Species Act: Reviewing the Nexus of Science and Policy.”  They looked specifically at the problem of political interference with science at the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) under Bush Administration assistant interior secretary Craig Manson and his then-deputy Julie MacDonald.

In an opening statement, Ranking Member Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) quoted from a 2008 Investigative Report by the Department of Interior Inspector General.

The DOI Inspector General found that during Julie MacDonald’s tenure she had “bullied, insulted, and harassed the professional staff of FWS to change documents and alter biological reporting,” disclosed nonpublic information to private sector sources including to lobbyists, and participated in the editing process for a species for which she had a potential personal financial conflict of interest. All of this was done with Mr. Manson’s unwavering support.

Craig Manson is now general counsel for Westlands Water District.  He is also showing up as the Executive Director of an organization called BestScience.Org, a project of CESAR, the Center for Environmental Science, Advocacy & Reliability.  Jean Sagouspe, former president of Westlands board of directors, serves as chairman of CESAR’s board.

Julie MacDonald has been doing consulting for Westlands.

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