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December 15, 2008 

New Report Finds More Than a Dozen Endangered Species Rulings Compromised by Former Interior Department Political Appointee

New report reveals Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald interfered with a number of endangered species decisions.

The Interior Department released a new report late today that found that Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald interfered with 13 of 20 endangered species rulings reviewed by the agency's inspector general. The investigation was commissioned by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). (For more information on the Interior Department's investigation, go to: http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=305942.

MacDonald resigned in May 2007 just weeks after an earlier Interior Department inspector general report criticized her for overriding U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists in similar cases.

Below is a statement by Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS):

"This report clarifies something we have suspected for a long time: Pervasive political interference in science has significantly hampered the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to carry out its mission to protect our nation's natural heritage. This investigation gives us a bigger picture of Julie MacDonald's politically influenced decisions and policies, but more needs to be done to completely uncover the extent of the damage she has done.

"As a result of these tainted decisions, developers are cutting trees, filling streams, and bulldozing habitat that threatened and endangered species rely on for their recovery. The Interior Department must reevaluate these flawed decisions as quickly as possible so that the best available science is used to protect our nation's biodiversity.

"President-elect Obama must address the damage to scientific integrity at the Interior Department with a broad suite of solutions, including increased transparency, enhanced whistleblower protections, regulatory reform, and a renewed role for robust scientific information in federal decisionmaking."

For the results of the 2005 UCS survey of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists, go to:


For the UCS Scientific Integrity Program's recommendations for the next administration, go to: www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/solutions/big_picture_solutions/.


The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

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