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November 28th, 2007
More Evidence of Politics Trumping Science at Interior Department Revealed

Tucson, AZ— Recently, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will revise decisions that denied protection under the Endangered Species Act to seven species because of inappropriate influence by Julie McDonald, a Bush Administration political appointee, who resigned earlier this year after allegations surfaced that she overrode the opinions of agency scientists on the status of many species.

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva has released the following statement:

“I am glad to hear that the Interior Department has come clean on the inappropriate and illegal decision-making which occurred during the tenure of a former political appointee, Julie McDonald.  It is no surprise that the Department has found at least seven more cases where decisions were made not based on science, but based instead on political influence and a philosophical opposition to protection of imperiled species. Like a modern-day James Watt, Julie McDonald made decisions for the benefit of industry, ignoring federal law and basic decency in the process.

“This announcement, however, continues to raise questions about any and all decisions made during her tenure, as Ms. McDonald could have been involved in many more decisions, using subtle forms of influence and without leaving behind a paper trail. 

“In addition, I have no doubt that this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to inappropriate manipulation of the decision-making process across federal agencies by this anti-environmental Administration. When one looks at the many resignations of federal employees who left their jobs because of political influence or were forced out for speaking the truth, this kind of behavior is no doubt rampant.

“As Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, I will continue to join with my colleagues on the Natural Resources Committee to investigate inappropriate and illegal decisions affecting our nation’s lands, waters, and other natural resources.”

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