Another Interior Science Probe: This Time on Delta Smelt

October 19, 2011

Despite the Obama administration's vows to back scientific integrity, these may still be perilous times for Interior Department scientists working on politically hot topics. The latest episode is an internal Interior Dept. probe into the work of two scientists who study the Delta smelt.

The tiny but endangered smelt live in the Sacramento River delta that feeds into San Francisco Bay. Restrictions on water delivery in irrigation-thirsty California — intended to protect the smelt — have aroused bitter controversy. Just before retiring, U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger attacked the credibility of two Interior biologists. Now Interior is seeking evaluation of their work from outside experts.