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Obama Interior Department rife with zealot

The Department of Interior, established in 1849, once led the development of the world’s most ambitious infrastructure projects. Those projects included such visionary work as the construction of Hoover Dam, which remains one of the world’s largest structures, as well as the Central Valley Project, an unprecedented system of reservoirs and canals that protect the Central Valley of California from crippling water shortages and menacing floods.

These great achievements stand in sharp contrast to the Department of Interior we are witnessing today; one that has broken new ground in misleading rhetoric, dishonesty, and outright illegal behavior. I refer to the recent ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger, whose unprecedented commentary has sent shockwaves through Washington.

The hearing transcript, released earlier last week, is extraordinary. In it, the Presiding Judge lamented that the federal government had not only violated the law in pursuit of water restrictions impacting the San Joaquin Valley, but had also attempted to deceive the court in justifying those restrictions. It is now up to Congress to determine whether this deception was intentional, coordinated, and sanctioned by agency officials. 

The Judge continued his commentary, revealing that the expert witnesses chosen by the government provided no scientific basis for their views and behaved like zealots. He then exclaimed “I have never seen anything like it.”

Irrespective of who is in the White House, there can be no home in a regulating body for zealots. In this case, it appears that the Department of Interior’s entire Bay-Delta regulatory regime has been infected with men and women whose motives are inconsistent with the application of our laws. How many other areas of the Obama Administration are corrupted by such practices? Is it now accepted procedure to tailor scientific findings to fit the Administration’s political agenda?

To determine the extent of the corruption infecting the Department of Interior and in response to the concerns outlined by the court, I am calling on House leaders to open an immediate investigation. If Judge Wanger’s statements are correct, they demonstrate a well coordinated attempt to circumvent the law. For this reason, Congress must move to expeditiously secure and protect records associated with this case.

The author is a Republican member of Congress from California.

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