August 22, 2000
REWARDS ENDANGERED SPECIES FRAUD
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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