Yesterday’s Washington Post reported that several environmental groups have obtained strong evidence that Bush Administration political appointee and deputy assistant secretary of the interior for fish and wildlife and parks Julie MacDonald has actively censored scientific information and given elevated and inappropriate consideration to non-environmental concerns in order to prevent the adding of new species to the Endangered Species list. The Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the original organizations to make the revelation, has detailed information on the actions of MacDonald and other appointees at the Department of the Interior on its site. Here at ScienceBlogs.com, The Questionable Authority and Thoughts from Kansas put in their two cents on the issue as well.
The evidence is pretty damning, and the culpability reaches to the highest levels, but should anyone really be surprised? Hardly. This is just another item in the long list of political interference in science scandals that have characterized the current administration. Even before this story broke, it was already bad enough that someone with a background in engineering (as opposed to a biological science) was in a position to have such an influence over the scientific determination of whether a species should be considered endangered or not. Hmmm… this sounds a little too familiar.