Two Years and 2 Million Fish Later,
by Ron Reimann
Two years ago, the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association warned Northwest governors that allowing renewed Endangered Species Act (ESA) litigation would lead to a fifth remand against the Columbia-Snake River Hydro System operators. U.S. (Oregon) District Judge Michael Simon has validated our prophecy.
Judge Simon remanded federal agency operations under the "Biological Opinion," blaming the hydro projects for continuing "to jeopardize" the continued existence of ESA-listed Columbia-Snake River salmon and steelhead. In doing so, he ignored two years (2014-15) of adult fish returns above the McNary (Columbia River) and Lower Granite (Snake River) projects:
(bluefish notes: mid-upper Columbia River Sockeye are not listed for protection by the Endangered Species Act.)
The federal agencies, with other state/local governmental authorities and some tribal entities, have developed the most extensive fish protection and enhancement program in the world, funded by billions of Northwest ratepayer dollars. Regardless, extreme environmentalists, aided by thoughtless judges, will relentlessly embroil the region in litigation -- seizing even more billions of dollars of household income -- so long as the last ratepayer stands. Their objective scoffs at sound resources management -- taking money is the measure of good, not more fish.
The Endangered Species Act has a remedy to end this nonsense. It allows state governors the statutory right to demand that an ESA committee be convened, nicknamed the "God Squad." The ESA committee has the power to exempt further "mitigation" from agency action, to finalize "reasonable mitigation and enhancement measures" once and for all. The governors should end this legal purgatory. Some godly righteousness is needed.
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