Interior officials messed with science, say witnesses at House hearing

Think you’ve had a rough week? Imagine how the U.S. Interior Department feels. This week saw a heated House hearing in which activists and former officials testified about Interior’s nasty habit of meddling with science. “This is an agency that seems focused on one goal: weakening the law by administrative fiat, and it is doing much of the work shrouded from public view,” said Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.). Witnesses including former Fish and Wildlife head Jamie Rappaport Clark said politics had led to manipulation of research relating to the Endangered Species Act, but Interior Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett insisted the agency was establishing an accountability board and was shocked, shocked to find politics in its establishment. Amidst the hubbub, the official who inherited Interior’s messed-up-beyond-belief oil and gas leases, Johnnie Burton, announced plans to resign. And agency head Dirk Kempthorne was found huddled in a corner, muttering, “TGIF, TGIF.”