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North Bay / Marin | U.S. | Environment & Forest Defense

Ill-Informed Republican Inquiry Undermines Oyster Company's Legal Case
by Environmental Action Committee of West Marin
Friday Apr 5th, 2013 3:39 PM
The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin today assailed a new inquiry by Congressional Republicans into the decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior to not issue a new permit to the Drakes Bay Oyster Company that has operated for seven years in protected marine waters.
U.S. Representative Doc Hastings (R-Washington State) today issued a press release requesting copies of documents surrounding the decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to halt the oyster operations and allow Drakes Estero to become the first marine wilderness on the West Coast as long-intended. The Washington State Republican’s move comes after an attempt by another Congressional Republican, U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana), to allow the operation to continue for another decade. Senator Vitter tried unsuccessfully to tuck the amendment into a budget resolution offered in the Senate three weeks ago.

“Apparently right-wing politicians and industry lobbyists on Capitol Hill have made this policy-based decision about protecting our most special waters into a national cause celebre of conservatives,” says Amy Trainer of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “It appears that the corporation’s deep-dive into special interest, right-wing politics has backfired, as the company’s conduits can’t keep their story straight in the rabid attempt to attack national parks, and are in fact making statements that inadvertently undermine the corporation’s own arguments before the court.”

Both Hastings’ and Vitter’s actions come in the wake of multiple investigative news reports in the preceding months that the Company is being provided free legal services by Washington, D.C.-based conservative group, Cause for Action funded by the ultra-conservative oil billionaires David and Charles Koch. Cause of Action is active in fighting for the privatization of public lands throughout the United States.

Trainer said that Rep. Hasting’s letter notes that Secretary Salazar was not bound by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when considering the permit – even though the central part of the Drake’s Bay corporation’s lawsuit is that the NEPA was needed. In addition, says Trainer, Hastings inflated the corporation’s share of the oyster market and number of employees working at the oyster plant.

“It’s unfortunate that right-wing politicians have ignored Secretary Salazar’s legally sound reasoning for his decision, and instead rely on a discredited scientist to deny American taxpayers the marine wilderness they purchased in 1972,” said Trainer. “We remain confident that Secretary Salazar’s decision will stand, despite the ill-informed political pressure from special interests and ultra-conservative politicians.”