Judge Questions Salmon Planby Matthew Daly, Associated Press
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - September 29, 2004
He wonders how it can work without dam removal
WASHINGTON -- A federal judge warned yesterday that the Bush administration may be headed for a "train wreck" as officials finalize a plan for restoring dwindling salmon runs in the Northwest.
At a hearing in Portland, U.S. District Judge James Redden again expressed skepticism about the administration's dismissal of dam removal as an option for restoring salmon.
Redden, who oversees a federal case considering protection of the fish, said it was important to determine whether a revised plan being developed by NOAA Fisheries would ensure the continued existence of the threatened fish.
At issue is a draft plan announced by federal authorities this month for balancing the needs of salmon against the demand for electricity, irrigation water and barge transportation provided by dams in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency responsible for salmon recovery, concluded that four lower Snake River dams pose no threat to the salmon's continued existence. That was a reversal from the government's previous position that the dams were a serious enough threat to consider targeting some for removal. Redden also questioned the new conclusion last week.
The new plan, known as a biological opinion, has drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists, Indian tribes and others who say removing the dams is the best course to salmon recovery. Utilities, irrigators, grain shippers and others who depend on the dams for power, navigation and water support the draft opinion, which would replace a 2000 opinion thrown out by Redden as inadequate.
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