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General Topic Areas

National Parks (8)
Public land use (12)
Air pollution (28)
Water pollution (24)
Public health (10)
Wetlands (6)
Wildlife protection (12)
Corruption (8)
Forest policy (10)
Global warming (6)
Corporate welfare (3)
Shorelines and oceans (5)
Appointments and resignations (5)
Endangered species (9)
Toxic waste (3)
Environmental enforcement (8)
Outsourcing and privatization (5)
Politicization and deception (11)
Superfund sites and clean-up (4)

Corporate Interests

Energy industry (16)
Oil and gas industry (8)
Automobile industry (2)
Mining industry (4)
Timber industry (19)
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Factory farms (4)

Specific Pollutants

Mercury (3)
MTBE (1)
Methyl Bromide (3)
Formaldehyde (5)
Lead (1)
Atrazine (1)

Specific Issues and Cases

Snowmobile regulation (5)
Roadless Rule (6)
Mountaintop Mining (2)
Klamath Basin Fish Kill
Mining in the Cabinet Mountains (1)
Formaldehyde Rule (7)
Outsourcing CAT (7)
New Source Review (3)
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (1)
Round Up power plant (1)
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The Bush administration's environmental record

 
  

Project: The Bush administration's environmental record

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April 2002

       Michael Kelly, a federal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, heads a team for the National Marine Fisheries Service which is charged with reviewing the Bureau of Reclamation's 10-year plan for allocating the Klamath River's water. The team completes a report concluding that the Bureau's plan would jeopardize the coho salmon, which are protected by the Endangered Species Act. The report makes its way to lawyers at the Justice Department who reject Kelly's findings and order him to rewrite his biological opinion. Two weeks later, Kelly submits a new report reaffirming the team's earlier findings, but supported by more scientific and detailed legal analysis. The recommendations are again rejected. Against the team's advice, the Bureau of Land management will approve lower water levels for the Klamath River, based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, which Kelly refuses to endorse. “Obviously someone at a higher level order the service to accept this new plan,” Kelly will observe. The decision will lead to the death of 33,000 salmon and steelhead trout (see September 2002). [Associated Press, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: National Academy of Sciences, Michael Kelly, Bureau of Land Management
          

September 2002

       More than 33,000 spawning salmon and steelhead trout die in the lower Klamath River due to the rivers abnormally low water level (see November 18, 2003). The fish succumb to “gill rot” which spreads rampantly among the fish as a result of warm water temperatures caused by the river's shallow waters. The lower water-level is a result of the Bureau of Reclamation's decision to cut the river's flow to 750 cubic-feet per second and divert the remaining water to farmers for irrigation. The decision was made against the recommendations of two reports by a team of government biologists (see April 2002). [Associated Press, 5/20/2004; High Country News, 6/23/2003]
          

November 18, 2003

       The US Fish and Wildlife Service accepts the blame for a government policy that resulted in the largest fish kill in history. The US Fish and Wildlife Service admits that its decision (see April 2002) to authorize a water diversion in the Upper Klamath Basin for the benefit of commercial agriculture, trapped migrating Chinook, Coho salmon, and other species in stagnant water, killing some 33,000 fish (see September 2002). [San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19/2003 Sources: Klamath River Fish Die-off, September 2002: Causative Factors of Mortality]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Fish and Wildlife Service
          

May 14, 2004

       Michael Kelly, a federal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, resigns complaining that “threatened coho salmon in the Klamath basin still do not have adequate flow conditions to assure their survival” and that his recommendations continue to be politicized by higher-ups. Kelley had previously blown the whistle on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) after they had twice rejected the recommendations of a team he headed for the National Marine Fisheries Service (see April 2002). The BLM decision to ignore the recommendations led to the death of 33,000 steelhead and federally protected salmon in the Klamath River (see September 2002), the largest fish kill in US history. More recently, Kelly explains, his regional manager, Jim Lecky, has attempted to overide a study he conducted concluding that a levee repair proposed by the California Department of Fish and Game on the 120-acre Eel River Wildlife Area would endanger California Coastal Chinook salmon and adversely impact Dungeness crab, herring, larval rockfish, eelgrass, other salmonids and the overall ecosystem. “[A]ny amount of caution would dictate that this project never be considered,” he says in a resignation letter he will release on May 19. He says the motivation behind the project appears to be concentrating “certain species of ducks into a smaller area for hunting purposes.” Kelly adds that his position is supported by fisheries biologists within the Department of Fish and Game as well as local wetland scientists and ornithologists. He will also say in his letter that there is low morale among the NOAA Fisheries staff in the region and that his colleagues are “embarrassed and disgusted by the agency's apparent misuse of science.” [PEER, 5/19/2004; Associated Press, 5/20/2004 Sources: May 19, 2004 resignation letter of Michael Kelly]
People and organizations involved: Michael Kelly, Jim Lecky
          


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