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The Great Snake River Salmon Hoax:
An Epic U.S. Government Con

by Ed Chaney
Last Salmon Ceremony, December 7, 2011

"We have now sunk to a depth at which re-statement of the obvious is the duty of intelligent men." George Orwell, 1946

The Plot Thickens. The Government Rot Deepens. The Smell Sickens.

Cartoon: Justice deflates the BiOp balloon holding the Wright Lohn Bodi show In late November U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden announced he would leave the bench from which he struck down NOAA Fisheries' 2000, 2004 and 2008/11 Biological Opinions on Columbia/Snake River salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Thus ends another chapter in the dark history of sordid corrupting of government, subverting the rule of law and betraying the public trust that for 40 years and counting has perpetrated an ecological crime against humanity with ecological, economic and social damage of epic proportions throughout the many thousand-mile range of Snake River salmon.

Redden in early August for the third time punctured a hole in the scientifically, legally and morally corrupt Biological Opinion declaring it "arbitrary and capricious" and remanding it to NOAA Fisheries for yet another redo, due no later than January 1, 2014.

It must have been quite a blow to the egos of the lead Snake River salmon killers at Bonneville Power Administration, NOAA Fisheries and Army Corps of Engineers. They were all in. They were proud of their work. A lot of face was on the line.

Cost to produce multiple scientifically, legally and morally corrupt Biological Opinions and to dupe the public, news media and President of the United States -- tens of millions of public dollars.

Bonneville Power Administration's sordid "Godfather" bribe that Native American Indian tribes couldn't refuse in exchange for forfeiting their sovereignty, dropping their lawsuits against the BiOp and becoming active accomplices in the con -- another $900 million.

Imagining the look on the faces of Bonneville's Steve Wright and Lori Bodi and NOAA Fisheries' Will Stelle when Federal District Court Judge James Redden didn't buy their transparent elaborate con and threw out the BiOp for the third time -- priceless.

The Dark History of Corruption

Over the past four decades a cult of public employees in the rotten upper crust of these government agencies has spent hundreds of millions of public dollars subverting salmon protection laws in order to protect four dysfunctional pork barrel dams on the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington. They drove Snake River salmon, one of the world's unique perpetually renewable resources, onto the List of Endangered Species. Current cult members now strive to subvert the law of last resort, the Endangered Species Act.

They have been aided and abetted by the Columbia River Pork Alliance, the dominant political force in the United Socialist Pork Barrel States of the Pacific Northwest. The Alliance is composed of corrupt bureaucrats and allied monopolists, crony capitalists, entrenched pork barrel economic interests and scofflaw politicians who feed off public largess and each other.

Bonneville Power Administration, which sells the power produced by the largest socialist hydroelectric system in the world, is Alliance ringleader. This government agency uses its power of the public purse to control hearts, minds and testosterone levels throughout its Columbia River Basin fiefdom. This power is the root cause of egregious corruption of government and resulting ecological, economic and social damage of epic proportions throughout the many thousand-mile freshwater and marine migratory range of Snake River salmon.

A Sordid Work in Progress

Starting with the G.W. Bush Administration in 2000 the federal agency salmon killers have tried a variety of blatant cons ranging from the outrageous -- claiming the dams are part of the natural environment -- to the obscene -- an odious billion-dollar "Godfather bribe" that several Native American Indian tribes couldn't refuse.

In this Faustian bargain the tribes sold their sovereign rights and joined with the states of Idaho and Montana to wear Bonneville's golden collar called the "Columbia Basin Fish Accords." They all agreed to support the scientifically, legally and morally corrupt BiOp and to let Bonneville have its way with the Clean Water Act, Northwest Power Act and other federal laws. In exchange Bonneville would shower them with ratepayer money for 10 years, mainly for salmon habitat improvement projects. The hear no evil - see no evil - speak no evil news media didn't notice what was going on in plain view. No one publicly expressed outrage.

The government salmon killers tried to convince the court that the proposed flurry of unspecified, relatively pin point-size habitat improvement projects within the vast pristine habitat of the Snake River Basin would more than offset the deadly effect of the four dysfunctional salmon-killing dams on the lower Snake River. This preposterous claim is the heart of the BiOp.

The judge didn't buy their transparent con. ". . . Federal defendants do not know what exactly will be needed to avoid jeopardy beyond 2013, or whether those unknown actions are feasible and effective, but they promise to identify and implement something. This is neither a reasonable, nor a prudent course of action."

Note that the corrupt BiOp had been more than 10 years in the making at a cost of many tens of millions of public dollars; weep for the death of "public trust" and "public service."

The judge, as in past rulings, expressed skepticism that habitat improvement projects of any kind or amount could offset the devastating impact of the dams and avoid jeopardizing the salmon with extinction. He granted salmon advocates' request to continue forcing Bonneville and the Corps to spill water past the dams to reduce mortality of juvenile salmon. (Bonneville and the Corps were once whistleblowed for violating the court order, but never mind. Few noticed. It was barely reported. No one was held accountable.)

Importantly, the Fed's preposterous habitat improvement-based "trust us to figure it out later" centerpiece of the BiOp was low-hanging legal fruit. The judge used it to toss out the BiOp without needing to rule on several other fatal flaws which remain in play when the Feds return with a redo no later than January 2014.

The August 2, 2011 Opinion and Order neatly summarizes the trail of government corruption and betrayal of the public trust from 2000 to the present. Salmon advocates should put a copy directly into the hands of each member of the Northwest congressional delegation and pledge to henceforth make them publicly eat any words they utter in support of the scientifically, legally and morally corrupt BiOp. Alas, wistful thinking.

Cartoon: Steve Wright sells snake oil and puppeteers NOAA's Dr. Lubchenco Salmon Killers' Orwellian Response

Terry Flores, the irrepressibly voluble executive director of RiverPartners, an alliance of pork barrel beneficiaries and Bonneville sycophants, quickly tried to put a smiley face on the latest judicial smack-down. In classic Newspeak she averred that the judge's ruling was not a "victory" for salmon advocates. The judge was merely "asking for more clarity." He "gave the go-ahead to federal agencies to continue implementing the plan until 2014 because it is working, as witnessed by some of the highest salmon returns we've seen in decades."

NOAA Fisheries northwest director Will Stelle chimed in with this wowser, " . . . the court's order directs us to focus on habitat. . ." [Emphasis supplied.]

Flores' and Stelle's statements are shameless quintessential examples of Orwell's blackwhite, ". . . the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts." (1984)

Reality Intrudes

The stench of government corruption emanating from the court-deflated 2008 BiOp barely had time to dissipate before the salmon killers at Bonneville, NOAA Fisheries and the Corps were blindsided from a most unlikely source -- inside NOAA Fisheries.

On August 15 the results of the agency's five-year review of the status of the listed species of salmon were posted on its web site. A summary for each species was provided to facilitate public access to the bottom line. The summary for Snake River spring/ summer chinook starkly reveals that the rot at the top of NOAA Fisheries has seeped deep down into the ranks.

Under the heading "What threats does this species face?" the existential threat of the four lower Snake River dams -- the reason Snake River salmon are on the list of endangered species -- is conspicuously absent. Hard to believe, even now. But there you have it. This from government employees the public pays to protect their salmon resources. Can it get any more special than this?

The summary went on to state:

"The status of Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon has not improved significantly since it was last reviewed in 2005. . . " [Emphasis supplied.]

". . .the biological benefits of habitat restoration and protection efforts have yet to be fully expressed. These benefits may take decades to result in measurable improvements to population viability." [Emphasis supplied.]

Oops! The Thought Police must have nodded off for a moment. This information contradicts the agencies' lies to date and their preposterous claims for the future.

The federal salmon killers reacted quickly when they saw the truth in print, although it is really quite amazing they can still recognize it. The summaries were quickly purged from the NOAA web page.

Oh well. No one noticed. It was not reported. Only the most unsubtle mind will find this surprising.

Staying the Corrupt Course

The cult of salmon killers in the rotten upper crust of Bonneville, NOAA Fisheries and the Corps of Engineers are like Bonnie and Clyde, all in; in too deep to change course. They have no choice but to double down on their bet that they can indefinitely and with impunity continue the four-decade-long tradition of betraying the public trust vis-à-vis Snake River salmon. No matter what the cost to the public now and in the future. The up side for them is that it pays very, very well.

They are in the same situation as the emperor in the 1837 classic children's tale by Hans Christian Andersen who, after being publicly exposed as having no clothes, nonetheless maintained the pretense and continued to parade his nakedness, thinking to himself, "Now I must bear up to the end."

And like the chamberlains that pantomined they were carrying the emperor's non-existent train, the hear no evil-see no evil-speak no evil news media, craven pork barrel lobbyists like Flores, Bonneville's bought state and tribal accomplices and scofflaw members of the Northwest congressional delegation, must continue to shill for the scientifically, legally and morally corrupt BiOp of the G.W. Bush Administration, now owned by the Obama Administration.

The Snake River salmon killers at Bonneville, NOAA Fisheries and Corps of Engineers duped President Obama into adopting the corrupt G.W. Bush BiOp. This gave them the license to kill under cover of the Mob Lawyer and Nuremberg Defenses that they were looking for.

And so. The plot thickens. The government rot deepens. The smell sickens.

Stay tuned. It's going to get worse.

Ed Chaney
The Great Snake River Salmon Hoax: An Epic U.S. Government Con
Last Salmon Ceremony, December 7, 2011

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