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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | North Bay / Marin | U.S. | Environment & Forest Defense | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism
Right-wing, Anti-National Park Interests Misled Sonoma City Council Resolution
The facts don't matter as Drakes Bay Oyster Company seeks to privatize Point Reyes National Seashore.
Supporters of the Interior Department’s decision to protect the Point Reyes National Seashore’s ecological heart, Drakes Estero, as the West Coast’s first marine wilderness area today charged that opponents of the Obama Administration’s decision presented “inaccurate and misleading” information to the Sonoma City Council to win approval of a resolution riddled with factual inaccuracies that run counter to established state and federal law.
“This resolution is a work of fiction,” said Amy Trainer, Executive Director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “It disregards well-established federal and state law and policy, as well as the expert scientific conclusions that Drakes Estero marine wilderness area is much better off without commercial oyster operations. We trust our state and federal legislators from this region will protect the public interest from right-wing-funded attacks based on cherry-picked information,” she said.
The resolution asks Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) to intervene on behalf of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company in direct conflict with the well-established legal opinions of state agencies. “Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s relentless pursuit to privatize Drakes Estero while conveniently ignoring its expired lease contract and policy, National Park Service Management Policies, and the California Coastal Act, is undeniably part of a larger right-wing campaign to open our most protected and treasured public lands to commercial exploitation," said Trainer.
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s partners to exploit protected public lands include Koch Brothers-funded organizations Americans For Prosperity and the Pacific Legal Foundation, pro-Keystone Pipeline Senator David Vitter (R-LA), and arch-conservative chair of the House Natural Resources Committee Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA). Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the conservative legal group Cause of Action, which provided pro bono legal services, continue to refuse to reveal the funders of their legal and PR efforts.
The State of California and Congressman Huffman have already rejected the intended goals of last night’s resolution. Congressman Huffman, one of six California Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee, previously stated that Rep. Hastings’ engagement in the oyster company case was “a political witch-hunt to embarrass the administration,” and that, “if the GOP leadership is interested in science this would be a first.” The California Fish & Game Commission’s attorney has stated that the, "Drakes Bay leases were contingent on continuing approval by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) of a right of the company to operate on land at the shore of the Estero. That permission having been withdrawn by DOI, the leases no longer are valid and cannot be relied upon by the Company as authority to operate their aquaculture endeavor in the Estero." (emphasis added).
The Sonoma City Council completely disregarded the company’s repeated violations of the Coastal Act and multiple cease and desist orders issued for its unlawful behavior, including the thousands of pieces of the company’s plastic pollution collected all over the Point Reyes National Seashore, in calling the company “sustainable.” The resolution also claims that the Drakes Bay Oyster Company produces 40% of California’s oysters, a falsehood repeatedly perpetuated by the company. Industry data shows that the company produces less than 20% of California’s oysters, and less than 4% of West Coast oysters.