Larry Craig Targets
Having gotten mad, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) is now planning on getting even, using the familiar legislative technique of a bill rider.
Craig has inserted language into the Senate s energy bill that would end funding for the Fish Passage Center, a tiny federal agency that counts the salmon passing up and down through the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Northwest. Craig's move reflects his anger at the federal court for ordering dam spills to aid fish, at the cost of the Bonneville Power Administration and electric customers throughout the region.
Craig, who has a well-known temper, has complained that the fish center, funded by BPA, advocates what a spokesman calls controversial and one-sided views of salmon recovery. The fish center has long been controversial, as hydro interests have claimed that the center has issued inaccurate information about fish populations, aimed at a political agenda of greater water spills from the dams and less generation.
Michele DeHart, manager of the Fish Passage Center, told the Washington Post last week that her staff gathers data that is accurate and, yes, it does show that the federal hydro system kills fish. She said of Craig s attack, "Maybe this is one of those deals where when you don't like the message, you kill the messenger."
Killing the fish center is unlikely. Observers in D.C. say that Craig's bill language is largely hortatory and unlikely to survive a House-Senate conference committee on energy legislation. The Bush administration has taken no position on the language, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, suggesting that it won't see the light of legislative day.
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