It hasn’t been a good few months for the Interior Department.
Interior’s inspector general, Earl Devaney, just released his office’s latest report (pdf). It examines how former deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald politicized the Endangered Species Act:
We determined that MacDonald’s management style was abrupt and abrasive, if not abusive, and that her conduct demoralized and frustrated her staff as well as her subordinate managers.
… MacDonald’s zeal to advance her agenda has caused considerable harm to the integrity of the ESA program and to the morale and reputation of the [Fish and Wildlife agency], as well as potential harm to individual species. Her heavy-handedness has cast doubt on nearly every ESA decision issued during her tenure.
The report concluded that MacDonald improperly influenced 13 of the 20 ESA decisions made during her tenure. MacDonald was “significantly involved” in setting aside the protected habitat for the Gulf sturgeon, for example, and directed the agency to exclude shipping lanes from the habitat â€” even though biologists in the region said the lanes should be included.
Politics, in other words, trumped science.
The report comes just a few months after September’s damning report on illicit sex, drug abuse and conflicts of interest at Interior’s Minerals Management Service.