Senator John Kerry’s office announced that the October 3rd hearing, regarding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will be located at the Massachusetts State House, in Boston, at 9 am. Senator Kerry has invited Senator Scott Brown, Mayor Carolyn Kirk of Gloucester, Mayor Scott Lang of New Bedford, as well as various US congressmen from Massachusetts to attend.
Senator Kerry’s influence with the Obama administration appears to have swayed chief administrator of NOAA, Dr Jane Lubchenco, to agree to testify. Dr Lubchenco declined an invitation to appear before Senator Scott Brown and Senator Tom Carper’s June 20th hearing at Faneuil Hall. That hearing featured revelations of wide spread malfeasance and possibly criminal conduct by members of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE).
Highlights from the June 20th hearing:
An independent audit, by KPMG, was unable to account for some $38,000,000 of the nearly $100,000,000 that agents had seized from New England fishermen. This was partially due to sloppy accounting and partially due to the former director of the OLE, Dale Jones Jr, orchestrating the shredding of approximately 75% of the documents relevant to an ongoing Inspector General investigation from Todd Zinser. Dale Jones Jr retains employment with NOAA and has not been prosecuted for any of his conduct. Instead, Dale Jones Jr was transferred to the Gulf of Mexico to deal with payouts related to BP and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill along with Charles Juliand. Juliand was heavily criticized in Zinser’s IG report for his overzealous seizures and intemperate prosecutions.
Employees of NOAA’s OLE submitted duplicate, undocumented, and unexplained expenses for reimbursement.
Employees spent some $580,000 on international travel to over 40 destinations with only 17% of the international travel related to investigations or enforcement proceedings.
Brian J Rothschild testified to the devastating economic effects of the current catch share program detailing the lost revenues for New England fisherman and its perverse effects on fish stocks.
Congressman John Tierney, Senator Scott Brown, and Senator Tom Carper expressed tremendous frustration with NOAA’s intransigence. The most memorable line belonged to Scott Brown, “What does it take to get fired at NOAA? Is anybody going to be fired or being held accountable?”
Stephen M Ouellette explained how the catch share program is effectively replacing small commercial fishermen with larger commercial interests favored by the Environmental Defense Fund and its corporate allies, Walmart and BP.