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PEERing At Panthers
Winston doesn't normally write about cats, but today he'll make an exception. Not just for any cat but for the Florida panther. The Florida panther has been considered an endangered species since the late 1960s. There are currently believed to be no more than about 100 Florida panthers in the wild.

A watchdog organization, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), in support of a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), has charged that the USFWS knowingly used flawed data in making decisions about the amount of undeveloped land to be set aside for the panthers. Specifically, the biologist and PEER claim that the "best available science" used by the agency "contains unsupported assumptions, uses inappropriate analytical methods and selectively uses data to support conclusions."

What is notable about PEER is both what they did and what they did not do. What PEER and the USFWS biologist did is exactly what any affected party should do when presented with government data they believe to be flawed they filed a Data Quality petition with the agency seeking correction of the information. What PEER did not do is file a lawsuit that would seek to circumvent the regulatory and administrative process. PEER got it just right on both counts, using the Data Quality Act and avoiding Regulation by Litigation.

As a dog, Winston is in no position to opine on the merits of PEER's petition about cats. However, Winston is an excellent position to opine on merits of PEER's strategy for seeking changes in government-disseminated data. He finds PEER's approach to be peerless.

  • Click to read story on MSNBC.

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