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California | North Bay / Marin | Environment & Forest Defense

Legal Brief Shows the Federal District Court Was Right to Deny Injunction to Oyster Co.
by Environmental Action Committee of West Marin
Wednesday Apr 10th, 2013 2:16 PM
Local and national environmental organizations filed a brief in federal court today that highlights the multiple legal and factual errors in the controversial oyster company's attempt to overturn the 1976 Point Reyes Wilderness Act.
Local and national environmental organizations filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief today lending strong support to the Interior Department’s legal case that the federal district court was right to deny a preliminary injunction to the controversial Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC).

“For the millions of Americans that own the Point Reyes National Seashore, and who highly value our national park and wilderness areas, we believe the law clearly supports Secretary Salazar’s decision to create the first marine wilderness on the West Coast at Drakes Estero,” said Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “The district court was correct in upholding Secretary Salazar’s decision and denying an injunction to the oyster company, and we are hopeful the court of appeals will do the same,” said Trainer.

World-renowned marine scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle noted that the continuation of the commercial oyster operation is “in direct conflict with the Seashore’s mandate of natural systems management as well as wilderness laws and national park management policies.” The brief also noted that, “the public interest in this case favors removal of the commercial oyster operations from Drakes Estero so that the estuary can achieve the wilderness protection that Congress intended and the public can enjoy this conservation achievement.” The public interest includes honoring a 1972 taxpayer purchase agreement that gave the oyster operation 40 years to operate ending Nov. 30th 2012, but does not include the “unsubstantiated allegations regarding private economic interests presented by” Alice Waters and others.

Leading scientists opined that the environmental harms from the commercial oyster operations and repeated violations of state and federal environmental laws support closure of the operation. Scientific experts cited in the environmental brief include:

- Dr. Dominique Richard, an acoustics expert who noted that “continued normal DBOC operations do make enough noise from motorized boats to have negative impacts to harbor seals”;
- Dr. John Kelly, an avian biologist who noted that the motorized boat activity “introduces a level of disturbance that is incompatible with migratory and resident waterbirds that use” the Estero; and
- Dr. Peter Baye, an expert coastal ecologist who noted that “water quality in Drakes Estero will not suffer or decline with the removal of DBOC’s non-native oysters and oyster infrastructure.”

The California Coastal Commission issued a Cease and Desist Order against the Company for multiple violations of the California Coastal Act in February. The company's bid to overturn the decision of the Obama Administration is being aided by right-wing special interest groups with links to the Koch Brothers, as well as conservative Republican legislators Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington State.


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Murray Suid
Thursday Apr 11th, 2013 5:39 PM
I'm one of the millions of Americans that own the Point Reyes National Seashore, and I value the park. I walk frequently near the Estero, a place that I deeply love. Yet I do not agree with Mr. Salazar's decision. Does that make me a fan of right-wing interest groups or conservative Republicans? Of course not. People should not be defined by others who--in some cases--agree with them.

For example, a friend of mine is an anarchist who favors closing DBOC, and who wants the Estero to viewed as a real wilderness. Does his being an anarchist mean that others who favor closing DBOC are anarchists or have anarchistic tendencies? Of course not. But whatever their political leanings, what matters are the arguments that they make and the facts that they bring forward. Labeling them as left-wingers or radicals or anything else is not only insulting but also irrelevant.

Mentioning the Koch brothers in this discussion only confuses the issue. My support for extending the DBOC lease has nothing to do with what the Koch brothers believe or want. Indeed, I had made up my mind about DBOC long before the Koch brothers came into the picture.

For the record, I am an environmentalist; I serve on the board of a nonprofit environmental organization; I write about environmental issues; I contribute to environmental causes.

Lots of environmentalists support the oyster company. I'm told that the majority of folks who live in West Marin favor extending DBOC's lease. So what? This is not a number's name. It's not about voting. It's about the law. If the courts take up the issue, they will decide it, not a popular vote. If the courts refuse to take up the issue, then the decision of Mr. Salazar will stand--according to the law. Mentioning the "millions of owners" in a discussion that is about a legal procedure is a distraction. We don't want juries and judges to be swayed by numbers. We want them to reach their conclusions based on the law and on the logic they bring to issues at hand.

If everyone in the country agreed with me--except for Mr. Salazar--I would feel the same way. I would say, "Let the legal system do its work."
by Sarah Rolph
Friday Apr 12th, 2013 7:25 AM
I just read that brief and it's hilarious! For every claim of environmental harm, the brief cites the *one person in the world* who believes that particular scientific claim. They even found a scientist who thinks oysters don't clean the water! Gee, I wonder why they're doing oyster restoration all over the world. Isn't that when they put oysters into the water on purpose? Isn't that so that they clean the water? Isn't that why NOAA supports shellfish farming (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/aquaculture/)? Yes, yes, and yes.

Hasn't oyster restoration been going on long enough that we have the results? Aren't the results overwhelmingly positive? Isn't the water in the SF Bay getting cleaner for this very reason (a project made possible by DBOC's contribution of oyster shells)? Yes, yes, and yes!

Why anyone still thinks the EAC has something to add to this debate is a true mystery.
by Name Games
Friday Apr 12th, 2013 8:51 AM
About Drakes Bay Oyster Co.: “After being caught violating harbor seal protections, littering beaches and marine waters with thousands of pieces of its plastic debris, spreading invasive species, and developing without any permits, it chose to sue the Commission rather than comply with coastal protection laws. It’s just plain shameful.”

from http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/04/09/18734957.php

No, Sarah, Drakes Bay is not cleaning the water....the company is destroying the environment in one of our most precious parklands.

Kind of like how you are polluting Indybay with your Drakes Bay spam. How much are the Koch bothers paying you?
by Name Games
Friday Apr 12th, 2013 8:56 AM
"Murray Suid" refuses to answer any questions about his financial stake in Drakes Bay Oyster Co. as he spams every post on Indybay about the environmental polluters.

Sure, Murray, you're a real big environmentalist!
by I assure you
Tuesday Apr 16th, 2013 11:04 AM
Murray and Sarah are real names of real people, not internet trolls. The oyster company is an honorable enterprise that would never, ever use trolls to promote their case.