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Secretary Norton Falsified Arctic Refuge Data

"It appears Secretary Norton misled Congress and broke her pledge to faithfully convey the ‘best science' on the Arctic Refuge," stated PEER National Field Director Eric Wingerter. "Unless Ms. Norton was the victim of her own overzealous staff, she should have the decency to resign."


Press Release


For immediate release: Friday, October 19, 2001


Contact: Dennis McKinney (202) 265-7337


Secretary Norton Falsified Arctic
Refuge Data Misled Congress on Environmental Effects of ANWR
Drilling


Washington, DC — Interior Secretary Gale Norton substantially altered
biological findings from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) concerning
effects of oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
before she transmitted them to Congress, according to documents released
today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).


On May 15, 2001, Senator Frank Murkowski, then Chair of the Energy &
Natural Resources Committee, asked Norton for Interior's official assessment
of the impacts of oil drilling on the Porcupine caribou herd in ANWR. Secretary
Norton tasked FWS, the parent agency for ANWR, with developing answers to
those questions. The resulting FWS findings were transmitted to the Secretary's
office. However, Norton's official reply to Senator Murkowski on July 11
was markedly different from the scientific input she had received.


The extensive changes made by Norton belie her repeated promises during Senate
confirmation to "provide [Congress] the best scientific evaluation of the
environmental consequences..[of] any exploration and production" in the Refuge:


Changing Numbers: While FWS noted that "there have been
PCH [Porcupine caribou herd] calving concentrations within the 1002 Area
in 27 of the last 30 years," Interior changed those numbers to say "Concentrated
calving occurred primarily outside of the 1002 Area in 11 of the last 18
years." [emphases added]


Ignoring Key Data: FWS reported that calving reproductive
"pauses" (years that females do not produce a calf) is higher in developed
areas in Prudhoe Bay than in undisturbed areas. Interior leaves this data
out and states that "Parturition and recruitment data do not support the
hypothesis that oil fields adversely affect caribou productivity."


Spinning Absence of Data: Secretary Norton stated that "There
is no evidence that the seismic exploration activities or the drilling of
the Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation exploratory well . . .have had any significant
negative impact on the Porcupine caribou herd," but she omitted the FWS
disclaimer that "no studies were conducted to determine the effects of the
above activities on the PCH."


"It appears Secretary Norton misled Congress and broke her pledge to faithfully
convey the ‘best science' on the Arctic Refuge," stated PEER National
Field Director Eric Wingerter. "Unless Ms. Norton was the victim of her own
overzealous staff, she should have the decency to resign."


- - 30 - -


Copies of all referenced documents are available upon request.


Read the comparison between Norton's
statements and Fish & Wildlife Service's statements to Congress.


Read The Conflicting Letters: Interior Letter


and FWS Letter




PEER ·
2001 S Street, NW · Suite 570 · Washington DC · 20009

Tel:(202) 265-7337 · Fax (202) 265-4192 ·
info (at) peer.org">info (at) peer.org



http://www.peer.org/press/190.html

 
 

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