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GLIN==> Bush Admin. Blocks Access to River and Bay Website



Posted on behalf of Alice McCombs <tarawins@ezwebtech.com>

---
For immediate release
January 31, 2002

Bush Admin. Blocks Access to River and Bay Website

Local Citizens Forced to Provide Information on Private Website

(Green Bay, WI) Due to actions by the Bush Administration, the public can
no longer access key information on the $176 to $333 million Fox River and
Green Bay restoration and compensation plan completed last year by the
Clinton Administration.

The Clean Water Action Council, a local non-profit citizen group, has
responded by putting extensive reports by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service on their own website: http://www.FoxRiverWatch.com/nrda

"For two months, these reports (several thousand pages worth) have been
inaccessible during the critical public comment period on the Fox River
cleanup plan.  This is inexcusable," stated Rebecca Katers, Executive
Director of the Council.  "It's a major loss of detailed information needed
to evaluate our PCB pollution problem."

In early December, Gale Norton, President Bush's Secretary of the U.S. Dept
of Interior, chose to respond  more broadly than necessary to a judge's
order in a federal lawsuit regarding online security issues and Interior's
management of Native American trust funds online.

Norton ordered the entire Department to go offline, shutting down virtually
ALL the Department's websites (except for the U.S.
Geological Survey sites) and preventing employees from using e-mail or the
Internet indefinitely.  Now, nearly two months later, they are STILL
offline with no resolution in sight.   This has made agency work more
inefficient, costly (for printing, postage, phone and faxes) and
disconnected from valuable information sources online.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is one of Interior's many sub-units;
therefore, their Fox River and Green Bay website has been inaccessible to
the public for two months.  (Other Interior agencies affected include the
Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Mines, Bureau
of Reclamation, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.)

"Our Fox River restoration plan has nothing to do with Native American
trust funds.  It makes no sense to shut down the Service's Fox River site,
unless the true motivation is to prevent public access to the information
or cripple the effectiveness of the Service," added Katers.  "Gale Norton
is preventing access, using an unrelated lawsuit as an excuse."

The Fox River documents are also important to "sister rivers" such as the
Kalamazoo River in Michigan, the Hudson River in New York, and the
Housatonic River in Massachusetts.  These are all PCB contaminated rivers
where NRDA compensation plans are being written.  Citizens, local
governments, other agencies, and even industries along these rivers should
have access to the Service's Fox River reports and website, to compare
notes and learn what they should expect in their areas.   Other PCB
poisoned areas, such as Anniston, Alabama, would find the reports useful.

"We're getting many calls for information, when individuals should be able
to get this information from the government agencies set up for this
purpose.  Taxpayers paid millions of dollars for the preparation of these
Service reports, but they've been prevented from releasing the results
online.  We're not getting the information we all paid for," stated Katers.

Secy. Norton has restored the online campsite reservation system for the
National Parks Service, but apparently doesn't place an equal value on the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's websites.

"Norton wants happy campers, but doesn't care about restoring our poisoned
river and bay," concluded Katers.

"This website obstruction doesn't bode well for the implementation of the
Fox River and Green Bay NRDA compensation plan, which should begin this
year (2002).  Other environmental actions of the Bush Administration add to
our concerns.  Norton recently prevented professionals within the U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Service from commenting on wetland rules proposed by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers resulting in severely weakened wetland protections,
and EPA law enforcement actions have dropped drastically since Bush's
election.

"Wetland protection and law enforcement are central to a successful NRDA
restoration and compensation plan," explained Katers. "It appears these are
not priorities of the Bush Administration and our plan could be in
jeopardy."

The following reports are now available on http://www.FoxRiverWatch.com/nrda

 The Fox River and Green Bay Restoration and Compensation Determination
Plan (RCDP)
 The Bird Injury Report
 The Fish Injury Report
 The PCB Pathway Determination
 The Fish Consumption Advisories Report
 The Recreational Fishing Damage Report
 The Surface Water Injury Report

Nationwide news media coverage of the Internet Access Problem at the Dept.
of Interior is also included on the Fox River Watch website, along with
articles concerning other key Bush Administration environmental actions.

For more information, call Rebecca Katers,  920-437-7304
(work),  920-468-4243 (home)

******************************************************************
Clean Water Action Council of N.E. Wisconsin
East Port Center
1270 Main Street, Suite 120
Green Bay, WI 54302
Phone:  920-437-7304
Fax:  920-437-7326
cwac@execpc.com
http://www.cwac.net
http://www.FoxRiverWatch.com



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