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Commentaries and editorials

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho,
Salmon Response

by Idaho Statesman Questionnaire
The Idaho Statesman, August 7, 2005

U.S. Representative from Idaho Mike Simpson, Republican Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, did not answer The Statesman questionnaire, but instead sent this statement:

I believe Judge Redden's decision to overturn the Bush administration's biological opinion will harm electricity ratepayers, agricultural producers, small communities and businesses in the Pacific Northwest while providing limited, if any, benefit to salmon recovery efforts. There is simply no proof that additional spill will have any positive impact on salmon migration and recovery.

I wish there was an easy answer or a silver bullet to salmon recovery. But decades of experience with the Endangered Species Act have shown us that court-imposed solutions most often cost average Americans dearly while doing very little to improve a species' chances for survival. Surely we can pursue an approach that provides a better chance for the survival of fish and supports the families, businesses, communities and farms of our region. That is the approach the Bush administration, and many of the region's leaders, have been working on and an approach that I support.

I believe that as we move forward it is appropriate to consider all options for salmon recovery. Dam breaching, however, is the most extreme option for salmon recovery and one that is irreversible once it is undertaken. Before we should even consider such an action, and cause the economic disruption that would come with it, we should explore every other strategy that offers promise for improved recovery. Unfortunately, the advocates of breaching continue to push for it even though they know it is politically unfeasible, economically unpalatable and scientifically questionable. Even former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus has told breaching advocates they ought to drop the idea and focus on realistically achievable recovery strategies.

I do believe it is possible for our region to reach a consensus on salmon recovery. I believe that consensus must be driven by the region's governors and that the federal government should be a willing partner in the recovery efforts. Whatever that consensus may be, it must not only arrive at realistically achievable recovery strategies and goals, but it must also not unduly harm the economy of the region or simply throw money at the problem just to say we are doing something. Will finding such a consensus be easy? No. Do I believe it is possible? Absolutely.

I stand ready and willing, along with my colleagues in the Idaho congressional delegation, to facilitate or participate in statewide or regional discussions on salmon recovery efforts.

Finally, I strongly believe that we must reject any notion that saving fish and protecting the economy of the Pacific Northwest are mutually exclusive goals. We can, and must, arrive at a balanced approach to salmon recovery that is as respectful of the needs of human beings living in our region as it is mindful of the obligation we have to further improve salmon recovery efforts.

Idaho Statesman Questionnaire
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, Salmon Response
The Idaho Statesman, August 7, 2005

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