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‘Junk Science’

Do Feds Act Upon Faulty Facts?
Winchester Star, March 18, 2002

We’ve long considered it possible, if not probable, but now it seems clearly apparent that “junk science” has provided the basis for environmental decisions made by federal agencies.

Federal Claims Court Judge Lawrence S. Margolis has said unequivocally that the U.S. Forest Service knowingly used faulty data of spotted owl habitats to block logging in a California forest.

As The Washington Times noted, “The revelation of bad science comes on the heels of other questionable actions taken by federal officials in the name of protecting endangered species.” While utilizing specious data is a travesty of both justice and science, it is also expensive. Earlier this month, the federal government agreed to pay Wetsel-Oviatt $9.5 million for the reconciliation of four canceled timber sales.

Deeming the actions of the Forest Service “arbitrary and without rational basis,” Judge Margolis said the federal agency “breached its contractual obligation to fairly and honestly consider Wetsel’s bid.”

This is outrageous. Regardless of your feelings about the environment — taking a wild guess, we believe most everyone appreciates scenic areas, pristine beaches, and majestic forests — federal decisions must always be based on valid scientific evidence.

Science should not be skewed to back up a political position simply because advocates — or activists — consider this position right, good, moral, or just. The deciding factors in agency decisions must be evidence, facts, data, and rationality.

Facts and data should not be changed, falsified, or ignored merely because they do not bolster politically correct assumptions or positions. Likewise, the federal staffers who used faulty data — knowing all the while it was faulty — should be fired and all decisions grounded in junk science should themselves be junked.

In the future, environmental rulings, as well as other federal decisions, must be based on valid, hard science, and not politically correct opinions. Judge Margolis is to be commended for exposing the flimsy constructs of “junk science.”

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