Dr. Rob Roy Ramey II
Dr. Ramey earned his bachelor's degree in Biology and Natural History from the University of California Santa Cruz. He went on to get a Masters in Wildlife Ecology from Yale University and Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University.
Since 2009, he has been the senior science advisor of the Center for Environmental Science Accuracy, and Reliability (CESAR), a nonprofit organization that describes their mission as the “use of data and the scientific method to ensure consistent application of environmental statutes throughout all industries and all sectors.” They are known for their attempts to delist the Sage Grouse and Hookless Cactus - funded in part by the oil and gas industry (Western Energy Alliance).
He formerly held the position of Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Dr. Ramey gave up his position after pressure from environmentalists and anti-development activists and high ranking official at the Fish and Wildlife Service over his publications on the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse. The controversy surrounding the Preble's meadow jumping mouse is intense and ongoing (see more below).
Prior to working at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, he served as a consulting Science Advisor to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of Interior (DOI).
In 2007, he founded Wildlife Science International, Inc. (WSI), and began conducting scientific research focusing on endangered species and conservation issues in the U.S for private clients. One examples is the Western Energy Alliance which paid WSI for 'scientific reports' on the Sage Grouse that support their opinions.
Many of his research results and publications have been used to support petitions to delist species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Some of his financial support comes from oil and gas industries, real-estate developers, and anti-environment think tanks (see a detailed account below).
How Scientists View his Work
Dr. Ramey's paper was "inconclusive at best, and methodologically flawed at worst." - The American Society of Mammalogists
“There is a difference between science and advocacy ... the Ramey study is advocacy cloaked in science, and for this reason, Ramey et al. did more damage than good to the role of science when setting policy.” - Dr. Andrew Martin, an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado.
“Ramey’s study was hasty, his data suspect, and his interpretation of results biased" - Andrew Martin an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado.
Earthjustice and the Center for Native Ecosystems accused Ramey of "doing everything possible to hijack the science," branding him "the leader of a high-profile campaign to remove protection for the Preble's mouse."
An independent panel of biologists commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that an earlier study by Dr. Ramey was flawed.
“Ramey set a very, very high bar...The genetic tests (Ramey) used don’t even show differences between valid species, like between polar bears versus grizzlies". - Wayne Spencer, a biologist at the Conservation Biology Institute in San Diego, who, at the request of the Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed Dr. Ramey's papers.
He was accused of crossing the line from science to advocacy when he testified before Congress last year about his belief that the Endangered Species Act should be revamped.
“It seemed to me from the get-go, he wanted to find that this was not a taxonomically valid subspecies,” Hallerman said.- Dr. Eric Hallerman, a Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife Science at Virginia Tech. Additionally, Dr. Hallerman charged that Ramey’s work reflects the George W. Bush administration’s intrusion of politics into scientific research.
Junk Science and Unwavering Supporters
Those that support Dr. Ramey consider him a "champion" and liken his struggleto get scientific and governmental audiences to take him seriously as an epic fight for the integrity of science.
To some Dr. Ramey is a folk hero of science. He is written about with a dramatic flourish in the below two quotes.
1. "Listening to this, Ramey angrily drummed the table in front of him with a pen, looking as if he wished the tabletop were Smith's head. "Mr. Ramey has participated in politicizing what is supposed to be an objective scientific process by releasing his findings in...a premature and public manner," Smith continued. Ramey rolled his eyes and looked toward the heavens, as though God might deliver him from the inanity." [Edit: I deleted indents to make it easier to read]
In other cases his pursuit of science is characterized as the little guy standing up to the scientific community.
2. "When Carpenter called Ramey and told him that the skull measurements confirmed the DNA findings, Ramey knew he'd been handed a live grenade. He could have fallen on it, buried his findings and subverted pure science to the greater good of vital habitat conservation. He knew that revealing the truth was likely to lead to the Preble's jumping mouse's being removed from the list of protected species, which would in turn open up massive tracts of pristine land to developers."
Dramatizing science makes it harder to get to the truth - scientific community agrees there is better science on the topic
The problem with dramatizing science by turning Dr. Ramey into a folk hero or standing up to the scientific community is that the actual science tends to get left out. In the second quote, Ramey's paper is called 'pure science" which makes his science seem accurate and worthy when in reality it was considered flawed by an independent panel commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The critiques on his paper dont stop at the panel - there have been multiple independent scientists that have taken to reviewing his data and findings and publishing their analysis. But you know to look because of how his supports describe Dr. Ramey's work.
Supporters of Dr. Ramey's Misunderstand the Science when Supporting Him
In addition, his supporters tend to ignore opposing scientists' opinions and either purposely misrepresent conclusions or ignorantly misrepresent conclusions. In 2013, an article was published in the Denver Post by Vincent Carroll that stated "A lot of people owe Rob Roy Ramey an apology". This came after a peer-reviewed paper was published in the journal of Molecular Ecology which Mr. Carroll claimed vindicated Dr. Ramey. The problem with that is that Mr. Carroll either didn't read the paper or he misunderstood it.
The study in question went out of its way to distance it's science from Dr. Ramey while taking data from King et al. 2006 (the study that contradicted Dr. Ramey's and was what warranted the independent commission that determined that Dr. Ramey's study was flawed), "Additional mtDNA data were obtained from GenBank for the cytb gene from previous molecular studies including 332 samples of 1006 bp from King et al. (2006). Control-region data from Ramey et al. (2005) were not included in any analyses." [Author Note: It isn't normal practice for peer-reviewed ecology papers to list which data they aren't including, rather they just list what is included - unless they have a good reason to inform their readers they aren't using a set of data]
One of the conclusions of the study went directly against Dr. Ramey's own conclusion that the jumping mouse subspecies were invalid, when the paper stated "Our multilocus molecular data sets concur with King et al. (2006) that the Northern lineage is evolutionarily distinct from Northern Plains jumping mice."
Rob Ramey is paid by Oil and Gas Groups for Scientific Studies that Support their Cause
American Petroleum Institute - Efforts to delist the Sage Grouse:
Dr. Ramey published a non-peer-reviewed paper titling “Recent Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Population Dynamics in Wyoming Are Primarily Driven by Climate, not Oil and Gas Development” in Oct 4, 2015. The paper was funded by the American Petroleum Institute (API). Well data was provided for the study by IHS - a consulting firm.
Dr. Rob Roy Ramey II, received $200 per hour from the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) for a project called “Data Quality Act Challenge against the U.S. Department of the Interior on Greater Sage-Grouse”
Dr. Ramey prepared a report for Western Energy Alliance (WEA) on the topic of “Data Quality Issues in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Conservation Objectives” on Oct 16, 2013.
Western Energy Alliance (WEA) hired Dr. Ramey to review the Bureau of Land Management's report on the threats facing the sage grouse. His review, dated September 19, 2013 (begins at page 14), critiques and dismisses the science in the BLM report.
Additional Oil and Gas related Publications and Transactions to delist the Sage Grouse:
Dr. Ramey’s Sage Grouse research was supported by various groups, including Garfield County, which paid $45,000 grant to Ramey to do an independent scientific review of the study.
Dr. Ramey published an article on the topic of sage grouse and oil and gas development titled “Oil and Gas Development and Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocercus Urophasianus): A Review of Threats and Mitigation Measures” on The Journal of Energy and Development, Vol. 35, Nos. 1 and 2, 2011.
In 2012, Dr. Ramey was hired by Western Energy Alliance (WEA) to review the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) recommendation to create Core Conservation Areas in the Uintah Basin in order to protect the hookless cactus. CESAR and Dr. Ramey's involvement in the Hookless Cactus campaign is elaborated on CESAR's page.