Science may or may not be real. That seemed to be the pervasive sentiment as Kathleen Clarke, Director of Governor Herbert’s Public Lands Policy office, spoke before the Interim Natural Resources Committee.
Ms. Clarke’s testimony revolved around the expectation that the United States may soon list the Sage Grouse as an endangered species, and the Governor’s desire to prevent that from happening because of the limitations it would place on oil and gas drilling in Sage Grouse habitat. According to Ms. Clarke, the Governor is unhappy because the science and research coming from the division of Fish & Wildlife states that the Sage Grouse population has deteriorated roughly 30% since the 1980’s due primarily to increased drilling, mining, ranching and other such activities and encroachments.
Under the Governor’s direction, Kathleen Clarke has assembled working groups across the state to develop their own research and science that will “refute” those numbers.
On the record, Ms. Clarke stated that “science is slippery,” “science is like the bible; if you don’t like what you’re reading just skip to a different verse,” and that the science coming from Fish & Wildlife couldn’t be trusted because “they’re just a bunch of biologists” whose views are too narrow. We can only assume that by “narrow” she means that they don’t have a stake in oil and gas development.
All in all, an unorthodox approach for the Director of Public Lands Policy to take. A common sense approach would be to listen and adhere to peer-reviewed and scientifically-sound research rather than brushing it aside and seeking to contradict it simply because we don’t like the outcome.
We think the Sage Grouse would agree.