On behalf of the Colorado Wool Growers Association (CWGA), the American Sheep Industry Association, the Public Lands Council and 31 other national and state agricultural groups, Holsinger Law, LLC filed a Data Quality Act (DQA) challenge last week against the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.
The DQA has been regarded as a revolutionary and significant check on agency regulation.
"With this tool, any person can challenge the information, data or science behind regulations as well as the regulations themselves," said attorney Kent Holsinger.
This could well be the first DQA challenge to the Obama Administration. In it, petitioners highlight several examples of bias and inaccuracies in the May 2008, Forest Service report, A Review of Disease Related Conflicts Between Domestic Sheep and Goats and Bighorn Sheep. The challenge seeks retraction of the report and all reliance thereon in forest plans and forest plan amendments, as well as decisions on grazing permits and permit renewals. Alternatively, the agency could issue an amended report that uses sound analytical methods and the best data available in a way that ensures transparency and objectivity.
Congress passed the DQA in 2000. The act required the Office of Management and Budget to develop government-wide standards "for ensuring and maximizing" the quality of information disseminated by federal agencies. Each federal agency was also charged with promulgating its own guidelines.
The DQA allows any person to challenge data or information a federal agency distributes or relies upon. Its standards of quality, objectivity and integrity have been used on issues related to endangered species, Title IX, medical marijuana, asbestos and others.
The CWGA has been very active in the bighorn sheep controversy as an advocate for domestic sheep producing farms and ranches.