Drakes Bay Oyster Co. lost their 40-year lease on federal land back in November when U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave them the boot and subsequent efforts to renew the lease were drowned out. Now the oyster company, which is responsible for about 40% of California's oysters, is heading to federal court to defend your right to $1 oyster happy hours.
Salazar's decision not to renew the oyster company's lease was hailed by wilderness advocates at the time for protecting Drake's Estero, the estuary in which the company lays their oyster beds. The decision was challenged four days later when Washington-based Cause of Action filed suit, claiming the government based their decision on faulty science. To which the feds retorted that they don't need science in this case. The the Press Democrat reports:
The lawsuit alleges the Interior Department failed to comply with rules for an environmental study that would enable Salazar to make "an informed, reasoned decision" on the permit. [...]
In a response to the suit filed Jan. 9, the government asserted Salazar's action was not subject to environmental rules and the "allegations of scientific misconduct are baseless."
Unfortunately for oyster lovers, in 2009 Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave Salazar the final word on whether the company's permit should be renewed for 10 years. Salazar's own memo on the eviction claimed his decision was "based on the incompatibility of commercial activities in wilderness and not on . . . data that was asserted to be flawed." The government's final say on the matter is that returning the estuary to "full wilderness status" is aligned with the goals of public land that Congress laid out over 36 years ago (the Drake's Bay Oyster Co. lease, again, was 40 years old) and is therefore "manifestly in the public interest." It does not mention, however, whether the public would be interested in another round of oyster shooters.
For now, Drake's Bay carries on — their official move-out date has been pushed back to March 15th and Cause of Action will be asking for a temporary order further postponing the closure until this case is resolved.