Dianne Feinstein is once again criticizing the scientific analysis in a preliminary environmental impact statement report that evaluates the impact of commercial shellfish operations in Drakes Estero in the Point Reyes National Seashore.
But those who want to see the end of commercial oyster operations in the national park say she is being fed misinformation by those who support Drakes Bay Oyster Co. in an effort to have its lease renewed.
Last week Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a statement calling the National Park Service's analysis its "latest falsification of science at the Point Reyes National Seashore."
Feinstein takes issue with a section of the report that states the noise from oyster boats in Drakes Bay would disturb the solitude of nearby wilderness.
"Here is the problem: the noise did not come from oyster boats, nor did it come from anywhere near Drakes Estero or the Point Reyes National Seashore," she wrote in a letter to Ken Salazar, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, dated Thursday.
"Amazingly, the decibel recordings the park service attributed to Drakes Bay oyster boats came from jet skis in New Jersey 17 years ago."
Those who oppose the oyster operation renewing its lease say it is standard scientific practice to use standardized noise levels even if gathered at other sites.
In its own letter to the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin wrote, "These representative values are reasonable, understate the actual (Drakes Bay Oyster Co.) noise level impacts and directly contradict . . . Sen. Feinstein's unfounded allegations of NPS misconduct."
Point Reyes officials declined comment.
The Drakes Bay Oyster Co. lease, allowing it to grow and harvest oysters in Drakes Estero, ends on Nov. 30. Point Reyes National Seashore has indicated it wants to return it to a wilderness area thereafter.
The National Park Service issued its draft environmental impact statement on the issue last September, but it doesn't identify a preferred alternative for oyster operations.
This was the second time the senator has issued a statement on the environmental impact analysis. Feinstein, who has long been critical of the National Park Service's position on oyster farming in Drakes Estero, issued a statement when it first came out saying she was "troubled" by the draft report. She said the report largely ignores the conclusion reached in 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences that "there is a lack of strong scientific evidence that shellfish farming has major adverse ecological effects on Drakes Estero." A final environmental impact statement is due out later this year and Salazar will make a determination on the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. lease.