The Obama administration and the Klamath River basin

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In his inaugural address to the nation Barak Obama said: “We will restore science to its rightful place.” This is a reference to pledges made during the campaign which were directed primarily toward the environmental community. Environmentalists have been outraged by Bush Administration interference in endangered species, clean air and clean water decisions. These Bush Administration misdeeds became high profile when they received major media attention.  Reference to them in the Inaugural Address signals that restoring scientific integrity in environmental decision making is a primary and initial “pay out” which the Obama Administration will make to the environmental community. We can expect big changes at EPA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

But how far will this pledge extend? The misuse and abuse of science was not limited to the issues which received major media attention and actions which ignored or adjusted science to conform to political desires were not practiced only by Bush appointees. Many line officials in federal agencies ignored or “adjusted” scientific information during the past eight years in order to do the bidding of the Bush appointees. These officials are still in their jobs.

One example of a Bush Initiative in which science has been a casualty is the Klamath River Basin. After a high-profile and controversial irrigation shut-off for endangered fish and a massive kill of adult salmon the following year several Bush Secretaries pledged to “fix” the Klamath.


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