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Bureaucrat Promoted After Covering Up Scientific Data

Austin.... A top environmental employee in the Bush administration deliberately misled federal agencies about the biological state of an endangered species and was later promoted, according to documents released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas PEER). Despite dissembling by state officials, a federal court conferred threatened species status on the animal, a fish called the Arkansas River Shiner.

In fulfillment of Bush's campaign pledge to let "Texans Run Texas," in 1995 Texas agencies began opposing federal wildlife protection efforts. In the case of the Arkansas River Shiner, Gary Graham, then Chief of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Endangered Resources Branch, testified in federal proceedings and issued press statements to the effect that the Department had no scientific data justifying the listing of the fish. Contrary to Graham's testimony:

> staff scientists had submitted reports citing declines in population and continued loss of habitat;

> the scientific staff recommended "more aggressive protection and restoration" ; and

> a federal court later found TPWD had failed to support even minimal levels of assistance for the fish provided for in the state's own endangered species law.

Following an inconclusive internal investigation of Graham's misconduct, he was promoted to head TPWD's entire Resource Protection Division.

"State wildlife agencies are not allowed to report scientific data at variance with the Governor's political position," stated Texas PEER Scientist Dean Keddy-Hector, a former zoologist with TPWD. "In Texas, scientific suppression is rewarded."

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