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Commentaries and editorials

Judge Should Give OK
to Government's Salmon Plan

by Editorial Board
Union-Bulletin, November 23, 2009

Unfortunately, to this point, Judge James Redden has refused to accept science or reason.

U.S. District Court Judge James Redden must see himself as the ultimate expert on salmon recovery.

What else can explain why the Portland-based judge continues to claim the government's plan to protect salmon isn't acceptable despite claims to the contrary by recognized experts? Redden consistently rejected efforts by the government under the Bush administration and is now finding fault in the approach being taken by the Obama administration.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for today. It's not likely any progress will be made.

The Obama administration has supplemented a Bush-era plan with a set of accelerated restoration actions and fallback position with more aggressive actions, according to The Oregonian newspaper. Jane Lubchenco, a well-respected Oregon ecologist who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration overseeing salmon recovery, is expected to stand by the government's claim it used the best science available to develop the plan.

The Obama administration has gone so far as to mention breaching the four dams on the Snake River as part of its fallback plan.

Yet, Redden continues to raise questions about the substance of the supplemental plan. Earlier he said he didn't think he could even consider the government's plan because it didn't take his suggestion to develop the plan with other parties involved in the lawsuit.

What will it take to make Judge Redden happy -- putting destruction of the Snake River dams on the fast track?

The judge has over and over again shown that he is the problem, not the solution.

We strongly believe that breaching the Snake River dams is a horrible idea.

This matter has been studied and studied. A 2001 inquiry by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that breaching the dams would increase the chances of salmon restoration only slightly -- if at all -- while significantly hurting the Pacific Northwest's economy.

Taking down the dams would change the flow of the river, putting much of the region under water. It would force a significant change to irrigation systems and hurt agricultural operations. Crops and goods could no longer be barged down the river, forcing the products to be hauled by trucks on the roadways or building more railroads.

In short, it's environmentally irresponsible and a stupid idea.

Judge Redden should allow the government to put reasonable plans in place to protect the salmon. Continuing to allow his massive ego to overshadow the legal process is absurd.

Editorial Board
Judge Should Give OK to Government's Salmon Plan
Union-Bulletin, November 23, 2009

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