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.
scientist whistleblower letter to Siskiyou County
Supervisors Cook, Valenzuela, Kobseff, Bennett, and
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
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
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
Dr. Houser speaks out against Secretary Ken Salazar
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.
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
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.
appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in
2009, has made clear the issue is a high personal
priority for him.
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
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,
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.
supervisors and other dam-removal opponents long
have complained about the scientific integrity of
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.
of the Interior spokeswoman Kate Kelly said in a
statement officials are reviewing Houser's
complaint. The statement didn't address any of the
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.
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.
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
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
"That was my goal as scientific integrity officer,
the kind of obligations I was hired to do," Houser,
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
He said he
was reprimanded, placed on probation and eventually
fired this month.
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