Goodman requests investigation into claims of Ragen misconduct

11/08/2012

Corey Goodman has filed his sixth complaint with the federal government concerning the application of science at Point Reyes National Seashore, this time targeting Marine Mammal Commission Director Tim Ragen.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce, the Marshall scientist accused Dr. Ragen of failing to conduct a transparent and fair review of the impacts of Drakes Bay Oyster Company on harbor seals, as the agency set out to do in 2010. The resulting report largely absolved the oyster farm of charges of environmental damage while upholding the seashore’s central study on seal impacts—even as the commission acknowledged that the data were “scant and stretched to their limit.”

Dr. Goodman wrote that Dr. Ragen’s review served as a peer review of the harbor seal section of the oyster farm’s pending Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); the formal peer review commissioned by the National Park Service omitted that section.

“Dr. Ragen established a public process with a veneer of fairness, balance, and independence, while his private activities subordinated that independence to the very entity being investigated and reviewed—the National Park Service,” he stated, adding that Dr. Ragen gave park officials and scientists—namely superintendent Cicely Muldoon and scientist Ben Becker—“access to documents not provided to other parties, ability to critique work of other parties without disclosure or comment, and power to not respond to questions and not participate in open discussions.”

He continued: “Dr. Ragen went to great lengths not to disclose his private bias—apparently breaking [Freedom of Information Act] regulations by withholding key communications.” Besides those regulations, he alleged Dr. Ragen broke his own agency’s scientific misconduct policy.

Dr. Goodman requested that any reference to Dr. Ragen’s report or the central seashore seal study in the EIS be deleted, and that the seal study, published in 2011, be retracted.