Congressman Doc Hastings

Serving Central Washington

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Hastings holds NMFS Accountable for Rules Impacting Central Washington

Provision included in House bill report seeks to ensure transparent, sound science

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Washington, May 10, 2012 | Kate Woods (202-225-5816) | comments

Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation that includes a provision authored by Hastings in the accompanying report that will force the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to report on its compliance with federal law and President Obama’s own directive to use the best available science on NMFS’ rules that seek to restrict the use of products that are vital to public health, crop protection, and forest health.  This legislation, H.R. 5326, passed the House by a vote of 247 to 163.

“Once again, what President Obama is saying and what his Administration is actually doing just don’t match up,” said Hastings. “It is shocking to me that, despite legitimate and repeated concerns raised by states, federal scientists and Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, NMFS has continued to march forward to implement policies that would jeopardize public health and significantly impact approximately 60 percent of the farmland in Washington and other Northwest states, while refusing to subject its science used to develop these policies to robust peer review as required.  I am pleased that the House shares my concern and is requesting a timely response from NMFS, and hopefully will prompt them to revisit their flawed policies."

Background: In 2000, the Information Quality Act was signed into law, requiring the President to issue guidance for federal agencies to follow specific procedures to ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information disseminated to the public.”  In compliance with this legal requirement, President Obama issued a Memorandum on March 9, 2009 requiring all federal agencies to “conduct a peer review on all influential scientific information that the agency intends to disseminate.”

Since 2008, NMFS has issued five biological opinions (bi-ops) that would drastically restrict the registration and use of pesticide and herbicide products in the Pacific Northwest and California that are vital tools for public health, crop protection, and forest health. Concerns about the lack of transparency and validity of the science included in the bi-ops has been raised by a number of organizations and individuals – including the Washington State Department of Agriculture, mosquito control districts, Northwest growers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hastings and a bipartisan group of his colleagues have repeatedly sought for NMFS to halt implementation of these flawed bi-ops and asked NMFS to open up the science that they used for peer review. NMFS has continued to refuse these requests.  In April 2011, the House Natural Resources that Hastings Chairs, jointly with the House Agriculture Committee, held a hearing during which several witnesses testified regarding the lack of sound science and feasibility of measures included in NMFS’ bi-ops and the failure of NMFS to conduct an economic analysis on affected agriculture, forests and health.

Hastings’ language that passed the House today in the report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, which oversees NMFS, to report to Congress regarding its compliance, or lack thereof, with the Information Quality Act’s requirements for peer-reviewed science in the development of these bi-ops issued since 2008.

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