Dr. Ann Maest is a managing scientist at Straus Consulting, and she’s the go to expert on all things groundwater. In the press release announcing her reappointment to the National Academy of Sciences, they mention that she is focused on the environmental effects of mining and petroleum extraction and production, and, more recently, on the effects of climate change on water quality.
Maest is in high demand as an expert for those looking to stop oil and mineral exploration. She’s also heavily used by the federal government, even though new details about her past work are coming to light as a result of a lawsuit. From The New York Times:
An environmental consulting firm named as a defendant in a racketeering suit filed by Chevron Corp. over a landmark pollution lawsuit in Ecuador is continuing to work on another blockbuster case: the Deepwater Horizon oil spill investigation.
Boulder, Colo.-based Stratus Consulting, a long-term contractor with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies, is gathering and analyzing data concerning the Gulf of Mexico spill.
Chevron is suing those behind the Ecuadorian case including: the lead attorney Steven Donziger; Stratus Consulting; and Maest. As part of their lawsuit, Chevron obtained through discovery, outtakes from a documentary film called “Crude” that show Donziger and Maest colluding to ignore their own scientific findings and make up some new unsubstantiated claims. Watch this:
Paraphrasing the video, Maest says that in their study contamination has not spread and is only found at the site of the pit. Donziger says let’s just extrapolate and say what we want. Maest readily agrees. Donziger goes on to say that it’s Ecuador and if they have 1000 people around the court house they win, the report is just smoke, mirrors, and bullshit.
Of course when you’re endeavoring to pull off a multi-billion dollar legal heist in a banana republic you don’t stop at just inventing damages; you stack the deck on the judicial side as well. What Chevron has been able to show from the outtakes and records obtained is that Maest and her firm drafted substantial portions of the report of the independent expert, Richard Cabrera, who they allege Donziger was instrumental in getting appointed to do the court order study of the alleged environmental damage. Sounds like a criminal enterprise to extort, right? That’s what Chevron thinks, and it’s why they’re suing under RICO.
In addition to being sued, Maest’s work (if that’s what you want to call it) was thouroughly debunked by another team of scientists.
It is hardly a surprise that Donziger is an old Harvard buddy of, you guessed it, President Obama. What’s really surprising is that here we have a National Academy of Science member caught red-handed agreeing to make up data, and our government wants to give her more business.
Update: In the comments there was a question as to whether Maest was on board with Donziger’s plan. See the video below and make up your own mind…