“The Interior Department is pushing ahead with a controversial proposal that would prohibit the agency from considering scientific studies that don’t make all of their underlying data public.
Critics argue that the move, described by the agency as an effort to increase transparency, would sideline landmark scientific research, particularly in cases where revealing such data would result in privacy violations.
The proposal, dubbed the Promoting Open Science rule, mirrors a similar effort at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which critics argue would block that agency from considering renowned public health studies….”
“Ryan Zinke is out as Secretary of the Interior, but in his last days in office, he tried to suppress what we can learn about the destruction Trump is doing to our nation’s public lands.
Attorney Daniel Jorjani, who previously worked at the Koch-funded Freedom Partners, drafted a proposed rule that would slash the public’s ability to get public records from the 10 agencies in the Interior Department….
Zinke also tried to get permission to destroy some records about what animals are protected under the Endangered Species Act. A recent memo at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, part of the Interior Department, directs staffers to withhold or delay releasing some public documents about how the Endangered Species Act is carried out….”
“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has put political appointee Daniel Jorjani in charge of overseeing all public information requests sent to the agency. Jorjani once told Interior colleagues that their job is ultimately to protect Zinke from ethics probes and bad press….
And in a March 2017 email to colleagues, Jorjani boasted that he had “successfully protected” Interior presidential appointments facing investigations and that their main responsibility was to do the same for Zinke….
Meg Townsend, the Center for Biological Diversity’s open government attorney, accused Zinke of “politicizing” the FOIA process.
“With a Koch crony in charge of records requests, the department will work in darkness,” she said in a statement. “Public records that might shame Zinke or big polluters will be covered up, and our public lands and wildlife will suffer.” …”
“A new report documents suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of staff….”
“The proposed document purge includes records about endangered species, oil and gas leases, timber sales, dams and land purchases….
The National Archives has said that getting rid of records is standard and has been going on for decades. The schedule’s language gives broad authority to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to destroy records documenting government efforts to protect endangered species and public lands.
“The Trump administration wants to bury science and hide how mining, drilling and logging on public lands devastate our precious natural spaces,” said Meg Townsend, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.…”
“The [US] Department of the Interior is seeking to streamline its schedule for document archiving (and destruction). Some scientists worry about what will be lost….”
“House Democrats are calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to stand down from plans to reign in the use of confidential data when crafting agency policies, a controversial move that follows similar efforts to limit the use of science at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In a letter sent Thursday, House Natural Resources ranking member Raúl Grijalva and other representatives expressed “alarm” over a Sep. 28 “Promoting Open Science” order distributed to Interior Department staff. The order instructs staff to prioritize “publicly available, reproducible, peer-reviewed” science in their crafting of policy and decision-making….
Rather than helping ensure “the best available science” is used in policymaking, Grijalva and his co-signers say, approaches like the one taken by the Interior Department will only favor partisan interests….
“We are skeptical that this waiver provision is anything but another layer of protection for the fossil-fuel industry at the expense of scientific integrity,” the letter emphasizes, concluding by calling on Zinke to rescind the order….
Zinke’s “open science” order appears to be following the EPA’s lead. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), a long-time denier of climate change, has used his position as House Science, Space, and Technology chairman to encourage so-called “secret science” orders without much success or support from his peers. Under former administrator Scott Pruitt, however, the EPA embraced such ideas and the agency has pushed ahead with efforts to implement limitations on science….”
“Democratic lawmakers are asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to rethink his secretarial order “Promoting Open Science,” fearing it will do just the opposite.
Four House Democrats, led by Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter to Zinke on Thursday urging him to rescind the Sept. 28 order that they worry will lead to gagging scientists….
Critics of the EPA rule call it the “secret science” rule and argue that it would exclude consideration of a number of important scientific studies whose evidence can’t be made fully public due to patient privacy concerns.
The lawmakers raised that concern in their letter to Zinke.
“Both policies threaten the suppression of scientific information not aligned with this administration’s agenda under the auspices of improving science based decision making,” the Democrats wrote….”