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Commentaries and editorials

Groups' Salmon Litany Misleads Public

by Norm Semanko
Idaho Statesman, Reader's View - August 25, 2000

Please consider this as an official request for public honesty on the part of the environmental groups whose sole agenda has become focused on breaching the four Lower Snake River dams.

For years now, these groups have steadily spouted a consistent litany: Breach the dams and you guarantee Idaho's precious irrigation water won't be needed to try to flush young salmon to the ocean. They've even gone so far as to call on water user groups, including this association (Idaho Water Users Association), to help safeguard Idaho's water by endorsing breaching of the dams.

What they are saying is not true and they know it is not true. And it's important that you know it is not true.

The environmental groups know it is not true because their own written statements to the Northwest Power Planning Concil, which outline their specific strategies for salmon recovery, call for the federal governmment to breach the dams and still continue with flow augmentation, even to increase the level over what it is now.

Check the Sierra Club's written statement to the NPPC, signed by James M. Baker, its Norhtwest Salmon campaign coordinator. It's categorized as Recommendation 27. The Sierra Club's list of strategies in the hydropower category calls for "partial removal of the four Lower Snake dams" and also for "flow augmentation in the Columbia and Snake Rivers."

Even more damning is the written statement from the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition, categorized by the NPPC as Recommendation 29. Under Item C, titled Strategies, the SOS "respectfully recommends the following actioins ... ." and then lists "partial removal of the four Lower Snake dams," and "add significant flow augmentation in the Columbia and Snake Rivers ... ."

Not to be forgotten is that a number of the region's environmental groups have sued the federal government, seeking to have more water sent downstream from Idaho. They have even gone so far as to suggest, at a hearing Aug. 8 in Portland, that water be taken from irrigatiors without regard to their existing contracts.

The conflict between their public declarations and their written (and signed) official statements transcend definition as mere contradictions. They rest squarely in the realm of organizational hypocrisy.

These groups clearly are perpetrating the most blatant form of the big lie strategy. Did they think the public would never check the facts?

It's critical that you not take our word for all of this. The partisan, divisive public shaking its head and trying to figure out if anybody is telling the truth. So you need to check our concerns for yourself.

The easiest way is to read the words. They are included in official documents filed by the groups with the NPPC. The documents are now available on the NPPC Web site. The address is Look under recommendations 27 and 29.

If you don't have access to the Internet, give us a call at 344-6690 and we'll send you copies.

The debate over how to best go about saving Idaho's salmon runs is difficult enough. Groups from every side of the issue need to have their voices heard, their points added to the debate. That's the only way we can make sure we have considered every viewpoint.

Here's where we stand: We oppose flow augmentation because science shows it cannot recover the salmon runs. We've opposed it in our public statements and we've opposed it in dozens of written documents we have filed with federal and state agencies. What we have not done is intentionally mislead you, to say one thing to your face then do just the opposite behind your back.

Idahoans are known for their honesty. Unfortunately, honesty seems to fall by the wayside when someone decides that the only thing that counts is the agenda.

Related Pages:
Salmon Advocates Sue Over Low Flows Earthjustice Press Release, 2/22/00

Norm Semanko
Groups' Salmon Litany Misleads Public
Idaho Statesman, August 25, 2000

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