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Ban on Dam Removal Studies Dropped from Bill

by John Hughes, Associated Press
Spokesman Review, September 22, 2000

Gorton forced to drop his rider in face of Clinton threat
to veto Interior appropriation bill

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Slade Gorton on Thursday was forced to drop his proposal to bar the government next year from studying the removal of four Snake River dams.

The move by Gorton, R-Wash., came as Republican lawmakers and the Clinton administration completed talks on a $19 billion bill to fund the Interior Department and other resource agencies.

Lawmakers agreed to drop or change several provisions that had drawn a veto threat from the Clinton administration.

The House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill next week.

Gorton was disappointed, his spokesman said. "It was pretty clear they (administration officials) are insistent on keeping this dam removal option open next year," Todd Young said.

Federal officials have said they have no immediate plans to recommend breaching the dams in southeastern Washington as a way to revive struggling salmon stocks.

But they say they want to keep dam removal on the table in case the plight of salmon worsens.

A dozen Columbia Basin salmon runs are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Federal agencies' draft salmon-recovery plan calls for completing some preliminary breaching studies by 2005 so that if dam removal becomes an option, they would be able to move more quickly toward a breach plan.

Clinton administration officials have said they do not plan to begin those studies next year. Gorton, who chairs the interior subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said his amendment was aimed at ensuring there are no such studies next year.

But administration officials said the amendment could put the plan in legal trouble. The success of the administration's proposed salmon recovery plan depends upon exploring all the options for salmon recovery, not just a selected few, the officials said.

John Hughes, Associated Press
Ban on Dam Removal Studies Dropped from Bill
Spokesman Review, September 29, 2000

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