Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Systematic Corruption in the Department of Interior

Can we trust the BLM, the National Park Service, the BIA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the USGS? Well... they take orders from the Department of the Interior. And the Department of the Interior (DOI) is having a very serious image problem:

  • The DOI was responsible for the water diversion from the Klamath River, which led to the largest fish kill the West has ever seen.

  • A judge in Idaho blocked new BLM rules loosening restrictions on Federal land that would have violated the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and The Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

  • DOI Assistant Secretary, Mark Limbaugh, who headed a conduct board, has hired on with a Washington-based water policy lobbying firm.

  • DOI officials have received free golf outings, dinners, hunting trips, and box seats at sporting events from companies they have monitored.

  • Independent investigator Earl Devaney has testified “Throughout the department, the appearance of preferential treatment in awarding contracts and procurements has come to our attention far too frequently.”

  • Officials from the Department of Interior have regularly hired on with the very companies they used to regulate. Recently, Jason Peltier went from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water through the revolving door to hire on with Westland Water District in California. And Susan Ramos, a former Assistant Regional Director at the US Bureau of Reclamation has recently joined him. It may not be a coincidence that politically connected farmers may get a million acre feet of water grants in California.

  • Julie MacDonald, who was Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, had to quit in disgrace for her callus disregard for numerous species eligible for the Endangered Species Act. However, her case was just one of many.

  • Since Dirk Kempthorne has become Secretary of the Interior, not one species has been added to the Endangered Species list – although the US Fish and Wildlife Service has classified 279 species as candidates – and two species have already gone extinct without ever making it to the list.

  • The highly publicized Jack Abramoff lobbyist scandal had involved buying influence from the Department of Interior.

  • A audit has found that the National Park Service has for decades allowed members-only beach, yacht, and sports clubs to monopolize public lands.

  • A jury found Kerr-McGee had underpaid $7.5 million in royalties in a case the Department of Interior claimed had no merit. And the Department of Defense was overcharged tens of millions of dollars in procurement operations involving the DOI.

  • The DOI has somehow omitted charging royalty payments on oil and gas contracts that have amounted to tens of billions dollars.

  • And after over a hundred years, close to a hundred billion dollars in royalties managed by the Department of Interior have still not been paid out to Native Americans.

When it comes to the water grab and the coal-fired power plants, can we trust the USGS BARCAS study and BLM oversight?

We can trust these Government Agencies to do what they're told.

Can we trust the Department of Interior?

We can trust them to do what they can get away with.

It was the Department of the Interior that ordered the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to stand down on protests to the Southern Nevada Water Authority water applications for Spring Valley water – on the day before the water hearings started. There has still been no reasonable explanation given for this act. All that the DOI has basically told us is that they have made other arrangements.

No. We can't trust the Department of Interior.

We should trust our common sense.

And exporting water from the desert just doesn't make sense.

No comments: