Interior Department destroys 100-year old small business

Drakes Bay Oyster logo

Because, y’know, we must all sacrifice for Gaia (1). Mary Katherine Ham summarizes at Hot Air:

It’s just a 100-year-old company and California’s only surviving cannery, a sustainable, family-owned operation employing 30 people. The Drakes Bay Oyster Company has been in a seven-year fight with the federal government and environmental groups over whether it’s 40-year lease would be renewed this week. The Lunny family, which owns the oyster farm, was among a group of families that sold their ranch lands to the National Parks Service in the 1970s to protect them from developers, with the understanding they would get 40-year-leases renewed in perpetuity. After buying and operating the oyster farm without incident— they were even featured as outstanding environmental stewards by the National Parks Service— the Lunnys learned in 2005 they were accused of bringing environmental damage to an area the NPS and environmentalists were anxious to designate as the nation’s first federally recognized marine wilderness.

And thus Secretary Salazar has decided to shut down a farm that accounts for 40% of the oyster harvest in California, in violation of the original lease agreement and on the basis of  “science” driven by an environmentalist agenda:

The trouble started in 2005, when Kevin Lunny, a local rancher, purchased the oyster farm from Johnson Oyster Co. He was required to get a special-use permit from the California Coastal Commission, which had placed a cease-and-desist order on the property as a result of previous problems.

In the midst of those negotiations and discussions about extending the 2012 lease, the Park Service came out with accusations of environmental damage, setting off a series of dueling scientific reports.

“What has happened is the National Academy of Sciences has shown that all the claims made by the National Park Service are wrong,” Lunny said. “It gives us a clean bill of health.”

Lunny and others claim Jon Jarvis, the Pacific West regional director of the National Park Service, deliberately misrepresented data to bolster his own ideological agenda.

Jarvis apologized Tuesday for mistakes that were made on the initial report but defended the Park Service’s handling of the science.

“They didn’t say our research was wrong. They just said it was incomplete,” Jarvis said. “What there really is here is a disagreement among scientists about the level of impact on the environment. That does not mean that one side is guilty of misconduct.”

The battle intensified in 2007, when the Park Service issued a report claiming, among other things, that oyster farming reduced the number of harbor seals and damaged eelgrass beds.

Lunny, who is trying to persuade the Park Service to renew a 40-year occupancy agreement in 2012, was furious. His case was helped by Corey Goodman, a biological scientist who reviewed Park Service studies on oysters.

They accused Park Service officials of fabricating environmental problems to drive the oyster company off the bay where explorer Sir Francis Drake purportedly landed more than 430 years ago.

Be sure to read the whole article. At best, the Park Service study was incompetent; at worst, it was a hit job meant to serve a Green objective (2), rather than objective science. Whatever the truth, a venerable business has been wrecked, livelihoods ruined, and the economy of California’s rural north, which has already suffered terribly (3) at the hands of environmental extremists, takes another blow.

This is another example of Washington-as-Leviathan, where abstract policy goals (and big donor groups) come before the needs of individual people, and science is a tool to be used to reach that goal, rather than a source of information leading to a wise, just decision.

(And didn’t Obama want to depoliticize science? Never mind…)

Of course, in the midst of this sad story is some irony, too. The Lunny’s farm is near Inverness, in Marin County, which is infamous in its liberalism. While we don’t know how the people of the area voted in the last election, Marin as a whole went 75% for Obama. (For comparison, California overall voted “only” 60% for the President.) Thus I think it’s safe to say a majority of the affected people likely were Obama voters.

How’s that for gratitude, folks?

That bit of snark aside, what’s happening here is unjust and needless, and one hopes that pressure from the public and Senator Feinstein’s office will find a way to undo the harm caused by Secretary Salazar’s arrogance. You can see a short documentary on the Lunny’s battle at Hot Air.

Afterthought: I suppose one can also take grim satisfaction at the thought of rich Bay-Area liberals having to pay more for their precious shellfish, given that Salazar’s decision will massively contract the available supply. Nah. They’ll never make the connection.

Footnotes:
(1) Except for the High Priests of the faith, such as Al Gore, who can jet around the globe as much as they need and just buy themselves absolution via the carbon credits scam.
(2) Of course, that’s S.O.P for Ken Salazar, who was found by a federal judge to have misrepresented the science in a report used to justify a moratorium on drilling permits in the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
(3) Other than marijuana, of course, now that logging, mining, and fishing have been all but killed. If you eliminate legitimate industries, people will turn to what they have to in order to survive.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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