FC: Environmental group complains about Interior website offline

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 00:42:23 PST

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    [My recollection of the news reports, including what we've seen on
    Politech, is that the judge ordered the sites offline; Norton had little
    choice in the matter. Seems like an overreaction from this group, or an
    excuse to complain. --Declan]
    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Fri, 01 Feb 2002 14:55:31 -0600
    From: Ben Masel <bmaselat_private>
    Subject: Bush Administration Blocks Public Access to Government's Fox River
    Bush Admin. Blocks Access to River and Bay Website
    >From Clean Water Action Council of N E Wisconsin
    Thursday, January 31, 2002
    GREEN BAY, WI -- For immediate release January 31, 2002
    Bush Admin. Blocks Access to River and Bay Website
    Local Citizens Forced to Provide Information on Private Website
    (Green Bay, WI) Due to actions by the Bush Administration, the public
    can no longer access key information on the $176 to $333 million Fox
    River and Green Bay restoration and compensation plan completed last
    year by the Clinton Administration.
    The Clean Water Action Council, a local non-profit citizen group, has
    responded by putting extensive reports by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
    Service on their own website: http://www.FoxRiverWatch.com/nrda
    For two months, these reports (several thousand pages worth) have been
    inaccessible during the critical public comment period on the Fox River
    cleanup plan. This is inexcusable, stated Rebecca Katers, Executive
    Director of the Council. Its a major loss of detailed information needed
    to evaluate our PCB pollution problem.
    In early December, Gale Norton, President Bush's Secretary of the U.S.
    Dept of Interior, chose to respond more broadly than necessary to a
    judge's order in a federal lawsuit regarding online security issues and
    Interiors management of Native American trust funds online.
    Norton ordered the entire Department to go offline, shutting down
    virtually ALL the Department's websites (except for the U.S. Geological
    Survey sites) and preventing employees from using e-mail or the Internet
    Now, nearly two months later, they are STILL offline with no resolution
    in sight. This has made agency work more inefficient, costly (for
    printing, postage, phone and faxes) and disconnected from valuable
    information sources online.
    The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is one of Interior's many sub-units;
    therefore, their Fox River and Green Bay website has been inaccessible
    to the public for two months. (Other Interior agencies affected include
    Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Mines,
    Bureau of Reclamation, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and
    Our Fox River restoration plan has nothing to do with Native American
    trust funds. It makes no sense to shut down the Services Fox River site,
    unless the true motivation is to prevent public access to the
    information or cripple the effectiveness of the Service, added Katers.
    Gale Norton is preventing access, using an unrelated lawsuit as an
    The Fox River documents are also important to "sister rivers" such as
    the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, the Hudson River in New York, and the
    Housatonic River in Massachusetts. These are all PCB contaminated rivers
    where NRDA compensation plans are being written. Citizens, local
    governments, other agencies, and even industries along these rivers
    should have access to the Services Fox River reports and website, to
    compare notes and learn what they should expect in their areas. Other
    PCB poisoned areas, such as Anniston, Alabama, would find the reports
    Were getting many calls for information, when individuals should be able
    to get this information from the government agencies set up for this
    purpose. Taxpayers paid millions of dollars for the preparation of these
    Service reports, but they've been prevented from releasing the results
    online. Were not getting the information we all paid for, stated Katers.
    Secy. Norton has restored the online campsite reservation system for the
    National Parks Service, but apparently doesn't place an equal value on
    the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's websites.
    Norton wants happy campers, but doesnt care about restoring our poisoned
    river and bay, concluded Katers.
    This website obstruction doesn't bode well for the implementation of the
    Fox River and Green Bay NRDA compensation plan, which should begin this
    (2002). Other environmental actions of the Bush Administration add to
    our concerns. Norton recently prevented professionals within the U.S.
    Fish & Wildlife Service from commenting on wetland rules proposed by the
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resulting in severely weakened wetland
    protections, and EPA law enforcement actions have dropped drastically
    since Bushs election.
    Wetland protection and law enforcement are central to a successful NRDA
    restoration and compensation plan, explained Katers. It appears these
    are not priorities of the Bush Administration and our plan could be in
    The following reports are now available on
    .. The Fox River and Green Bay Restoration and Compensation Determination
    Plan (RCDP) . The Bird Injury Report . The Fish Injury Report . The PCB
    Pathway Determination . The Fish Consumption Advisories Report . The
    Recreational Fishing Damage Report . The Surface Water Injury Report
    Nationwide news media coverage of the Internet Access Problem at the
    Dept. of Interior is also included on the Fox River Watch website, along
    with articles concerning other key Bush Administration environmental
    For more information, call Rebecca Katers, 920-437-7304 (work),
    920-468-4243 (home)
    For more information, contact Alice McCombs Webmaster Clean Water Action
    Council of N E Wisconsin 920-437-7304 Webmasterat_private Web
    site: http://www.FoxRiverWatch.com/index.html
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