the film
Commentaries and editorials

Judge Ignores Science
in Salmon Ruling

by Doc Hastings
Guest Comment, Capital Press - July 1, 2005

Recovery requires common sense, balanced approach

Portland judge recently tossed aside the federal plan, called a biological opinion, governing endangered fish recovery in the Columbia and Snake River Basins.

The judge, U.S. District Judge James Redden, also grabbed control of our dams and started running them himself - ordering an increase in the summer spill of water at Snake River dams starting June 20.

This judge's order has an estimated price tag of $67 million that will raise Bonneville Power Administration power rates by 4-5 percent for Northwest families, farmers and businesses.

Incredibly, there is no science to show this action will help fish, and, in fact, it may well result in the killing of fish. This flies in the face of common sense and amounts to gambling with the survival of these fish and the checkbooks of Northwest families and job-creating businesses.

Some have argued that $67 million is a small price to pay to help protect fish, yet this ignores reality: we in the Northwest are already paying over $600 million a year in higher BPA power rates to help protect fish and wildlife.

In my view, management of our rivers should be based on sound science, focused on results and developed with meaningful input from local residents - not imposed upon us from the court bench.

We need to return decision-making to the agencies with expertise, make salmon recovery more efficient and effective, and no longer allow lawsuits and judges to dictate actions.

Citing concerns about salmon protection, water, energy prices and our economy, I recently joined with a group of Northwest lawmakers to urge an appeal of the judge's ruling. I'm very pleased that the Bush Administration has now filed an appeal, and requested an emergency stay to stop the increased summer spill until the appeal can be considered by the higher court.

In June, I had the opportunity to participate in a congressional hearing in Clarkston, Wash., about the court ruling.

Congressional leaders heard first-hand from local residents who are on the front lines of helping to maintain one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, an important transportation link to the Pacific Rim, and a clean, renewable source of energy for the region.

Pacific Northwest residents know we can have both fish recovery and clean and low-cost hydropower -- we understand this is not an either-or-situation.

A balanced approach to salmon recovery requires a comprehensive view that goes far beyond just the hydropower system -- including harvest policies, the benefits of hatcheries, addressing the problem of animals that prey on salmon by the thousands, and a better understanding of ocean conditions and their effects on fish populations.

We need a common sense approach, grounded in science, that will ensure both abundant salmon runs and the benefits of our hydropower system are maintained for future generations.

Snake River Hearing Renews Debate on Dams by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 6/7/5
BPA Offers Deal to Aluminum Plants by Michael Jamison, Missoulian, 7/10/5

Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, has represented Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District since 1995.
Judge Ignores Science in Salmon Ruling
Capital Press, July 1, 2005

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