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False Claims Should Sink Pacific Shellfish Grower's Complaint Against Park Service
The Pacific Shellfish Growers Association's Data Quality Act complaint against the National Park Service should be rejected for making false claims.
When complaints about information quality are made by an industry it is a good idea for that industry doing the complaining to be sure the information provided is not lacking in foundation.
Recently, the Pacific Coast Shellfish Grower's Association (PCSGA) filed an "information quality complaint" about information used and conclusions reached on the adverse impacts from commercial shellfish farming in Drakes Estero within the Point Reyes National Seashore. In explaining why the complaint is not "moot" as the others filed by Cause of Action/Corey Goodman and one earlier by PCSGA were found to be, they state the Drakes Estero Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) conclusions "may still have significant adverse impacts for the shellfish industry and PCSGA members."
Within the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) "complaint" is an apparently untrue statement, which is that "..issues raised in the EIS were used to deny oyster lease applications in Alabama and South Carolina." (p.5 and 22) This statement references a Cause of Action Investigative Report as the source (Keeping Entrepreneurship at Bay: How the Department of the Interior Uses Flawed Science to Foreclose the American Dream, dated March 4, 2013.)
In that "Report" is a statement credited to Bob Rheault, President of the East Coast Shellfish Grower's Association which is purported to be from a January 7, 2013 letter written by him to Kevin and Nancy Lunny, from which they quoted him as saying "the issues raised in the DEIS [were] used to quash oyster lease applications - one in Alabama and one in South Carolina." (p. 7, 9, 29, 30)
At issue is that statement is the fundamental point used to establish that PCSGA has been "affected". There is nothing else in the "complaint" showing PCSGA has been affected. Everything else is merely conjecture (e.g., regarding the Nationwide Permit 48 statement, it notes: "If relied upon in this programmatic consultation...the EIS could have a damaging effect..." p.5). Conjecture should not be the basis for accepting a complaint on something which they simply disagree with.
More to the point, Alabama and South Carolina both deny that any oyster lease permits have been denied due to the Drakes Estero EIS. Further, Susan Hadely with South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources asked Bob Rheault directly where this "rumor" had started. When confronted with the question, Mr. Rheault claims the statement was never made.
This apparent stretching and twisting of a non-fact, used as the only basis to establish being an affected party, should cause the "complaint" to be rejected at its face. PCSGA may not agree with the data and the conclusions reached in the EIS, but it does not in any way justify support for an abuse of Section 515's Information Quality Act.