Attempts by mining industry and state agencies to silence scientists right to free speech:
Fracking and academic freedom. A former researcher who says he left the Colorado School of Mines due to pressure from the oil and gas industry has now lost his university job in Wyoming after an industry association complained to his superiors about comments he made about fracking. Boulder Weekly, Colorado (Aug 16, 2012).
The geologist licensing laws were put in place, supposedly, to protect the general public against unscrupulous and incompetent geologists.
Instead, "geology consultants to the mining industry are using regulation of professional geologist to prohibit free speech"
Bacchus case -Unlike Mark Reed's similar case in Oregon, the offending state rules that infringe on the public's free speech was not revised as part of the settlement agreement. The state merely "exempted" Bacchus from those rules. She predict that additional legal challenges to those rules will follow.
Mining issues free speech in Oregon: The Reed case- resulted in a new Free Speech Law in Oregon in 2003. The issue is ongoing. Read more about his recent efforts here.
Citizens fight back- The affidavit filed by Panagioti' Tsolkas, co-chair of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, in June of 2007, in support of a written complaint for violations of Chapters 455 and 492 FS and related laws and rules regarding a professional geologists' testimony on vertical migration of injected industrial wastewater to be missing a published document in which the geologist is named co-author has been removed upon request in the face of concerns regarding libel. Apparently the written complaint mentioned has not been filed (as of August 6, 2008).
Click here to read a note I received from Dr. Bacchus, (May 23, 2008) --it provides context and an introduction to the material provided below.
Dr. Bacchus, a hydroecologist, was served a "cease and desist" (C&D) notice in July of 2006 regarding her public input in a mining zoning application in the state of Florida. It seems a move by industry to prevent her from exercising her first amendment rights. She responded by filing a complaint of her own. You can see the original complaint Bacchus vs. Florida Department of Business and Regulation here. This link will lead you to the amended complaint (filed in March of 2007).
This letter from the (Florida) state agency dated 7/31/07 rescinds the Cease and Desist order they had placed Bacchus under for more than a year. Note that this is the same date of the above amended complaint filed in federal court). The idea may have been that "rescinding" the C&D order against the scientist, would have allowed the that the suit against them in federal court would be dismissed. That did not happen, as you can see from the judge's order denying the motion to dismiss the case.
The agency's attorney who signed the C&D order in 2006 (Tunnicliff) was attempting to claim he had immunity from prosecution. In the judge's order denying dismissal, he clarified that immunity from prosecution extended to łall but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.˛ The state quickly settled the case out of court.
Unlike Mark Reed's similar case in Oregon, the offending state rules that infringe on the public's free speech was not revised as part of the settlement agreement. The state merely "exempted" Bacchus from those rules. She predict that additional legal challenges to those rules will follow.
We hope these stories will provide resources and hope for others to continue to exercise free speech in our great democracy.
Stay tuned to this site for more resources related to this issue. I hope they will assist others in working toward empowering American to be civically engaged in our democracy.
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