We the People Radio: The Dam Whistleblower

March 11, 2012 | By | Add a Comment
Our guest – Paul R. Houser

DR. PAUL R. HOUSER

Paul Houser, an associate professor of hydrology at George Mason University, told the Record Searchlight newspaper he was fired by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation after questioning the positive spin U.S. Department of Interior officials were putting on scientific studies that supported dam removal.Klamath KBRA scientist whistleblower letter to Siskiyou County Supervisors

Dear Supervisors Cook, Valenzuela, Kobseff, Bennett, and Armstrong,

I know you are concerned about the Klamath Secretarial determination process, so I wanted to bring to your attention to an allegation of scientific and scholarly misconduct and reprisal for a whistleblower disclosure I made concerning the biased summarization of key scientific conclusions for the Klamath River dam removal Secretarial determination process.

An example of this intentional biased (falsification) reporting of scientific results by the Department of the Interior is contained in the September 21, 2011 “Summary of Key Conclusions: Draft EIS/EIR and Related Scientific/Technical Reports”. There are many other examples of integrity issues outlined in the attached allegation.

I made this disclosure when I held the position of Science Advisor for the Bureau of Reclamation. Unfortunately, as a result of the disclosure, I have faced systematic reprisal and termination of my employment. I have opened a case with the Department of the Interior, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and I plan to file the attached scientific integrity allegation. I also plan to appeal the termination of my position to the Office of Special Council (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board
(MSPB).

I hope that this situation is of interest to you, and if so, I am hoping that you would be willing to advocate on my behalf and/or on behalf of good science-informed decision making in the Klamath Basin. I have been treated wrongly by the Department of the Interior, but m decisions about the Klamath dam removal process are being compromised by scientific integrity issues.

Best Regards, Paul

Dr. Paul R. Houser, Associate Professor | George Mason University

ENDANGERED KLAMATH RIVER COHO SALMON

Story from the Redding Searchlight:

UPDATED: Fired federal adviser files whistle-blower complaint over Klamath dam removal
Professor says information was manipulated to support removal

Write to the editor about this:
By Ryan Sabalow
A federal agency’s former scientific integrity adviser has filed a whistle-blower complaint saying he was fired from his job after he began questioning top officials about “spinning” evidence to tout the removal of Klamath River dams.

“The bottom line is they need to be honest about the science and the decision making,” Paul R. Houser, an associate hydrology professor at George Mason University, told the Record Searchlight on Tuesday, in his first remarks to the media about his whistle-blower complaint.

He says there have been a number of scientific studies that showed dam removal comes with some risks or wouldn’t be nearly as beneficial to threatened coho salmon habitat as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s staff made it seem.

Salazar, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2009, has made clear the issue is a high personal priority for him.

Houser’s claim, filed last week with Department of the Interior’s Office of Executive Secretariat and Regulatory Affairs, has already begun to impact the debate over removing the four dams, three of which are in Siskiyou County. The dams are owned by PacifiCorp, a private company that wants to remove them.

County Supervisor Jim Cook, who traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby federal officials against dam removal, said Tuesday that staff members of north state U.S. Reps. Wally Herger, R-Chico, and Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, are investigating. House committees have expressed interest as well, Cook said.

Herger’s spokesman Bryan Cleveland said today his office wasn’t actively investigating the case, though Herger is interested in learning the results of an internal investigation conducted by the Department of the Interior.

Siskiyou supervisors and other dam-removal opponents long have complained about the scientific integrity of the process.

The supervisors have threatened to sue, saying Salazar isn’t being genuine when he says officials are thoroughly reviewing the proposal before making a decision. The supervisors complain dam removal is a foregone conclusion, with federal regulators “cherry-picking” science to support their views.

“It is what our fear has always been,” Cook said Tuesday in a phone interview from Washington.

Department of the Interior spokeswoman Kate Kelly said in a statement officials are reviewing Houser’s complaint. The statement didn’t address any of the allegations.

“Interior has established a strong scientific, public input and peer review process that is guiding the studies that will lead to a decision about potential removal of the four Klamath River dams,” Kelly said.

Houser said he was hired last spring as the Bureau of Reclamation’s only scientific integrity adviser. Kelly said Houser’s duties included checking the scientific integrity of the Klamath dams studies, among other Bureau projects.

Houser said in September he began growing concerned about federal officials issuing reports and news releases that “intentionally distort” the negatives of the project, something he calls “intentional falsification.”

Houser said he was told by one of his supervisors that Salazar “wants to remove those dams” and he had violated “unwritten rules” when he began sending emails to his superiors questioning what appeared to him to be deliberate spin.

“That was my goal as scientific integrity officer, the kind of obligations I was hired to do,” Houser, 41, said.

In a lengthy whistle-blower report posted on his website, Houser said he was especially concerned because removing the dams and associated environmental work would cost more than $1 billion, “so a misinformed or premeditated decision could be a gross waste of funds.”

He said he was reprimanded, placed on probation and eventually fired this month.

complete story found at: http://www.redding.com/news/2012/feb/28/klamath-river-dams-fired-federal-adviser-files/

Filed in: Klamath

Dr. Paul R. Houser

About the Author (Author Profile)

Dr. Houser in an internationally recognized expert in local to global land surface-atmospheric remote sensing, in-situ observation and numerical simulation, development and application of hydrologic data assimilation methods, scientific integrity and policy, and global water and energy cycling. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Hydrology and Water Resources from the University of Arizona in 1992 and 1996 respectively. Dr. Houser's previous experience includes internships at the U.S. Geological Survey and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Houser joined the NASA-GSFC Hydrological Sciences Branch and the Data Assimilation Office (DAO/GMAO) in 1997, served as manager of NASA’s Land Surface Hydrology Program, and served as branch head of the Hydrological Science Branch. In 2005, he joined the George Mason University Climate Dynamics Program and the Geography and Geoinformation Sciences Department as Professor of Global Hydrology, and formed CREW (the Center for Research for Environment and Water). Dr. Houser has also teamed with groundwater development and exploration companies (EarthWater Global and Geovesi) and has served as Science Advisor to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Dr. Houser has led numerous scientific contributions, including the development of Land Data Assimilation Systems (LDAS), the Hydrospheric States Mission (Hydros/SMAP), the Land Information System (LIS), the NASA Energy and Water cycle Study (NEWS), and the Water Cycle Solutions Network (WaterNet).

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