Congressmen Question NOAA Head
by Matthew Preusch
Rep. Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican who opposes breaching Snake River dams to aid salmon, today questioned the country's top fisheries official about why the Obama administration's plan for Columbia Basin salmon includes studying dam removal as a last resort.
Rep. Hastings, whose central Washington district includes one of the dams, told Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that he considered the administration's decision to include a contingency to study dam removal to be based on politics rather than science.
Lubchenco, an Oregon marine biologist, replied that the administration did not believe breaching the dams would be necessary because the other aspects of the plan should be sufficient to keep salmon runs from getting closer to extinction.
Update, 3:02 p.m.
Rep. Peter DeFazio's office just posted a video of his exchange with Lubchenco, which preceded Rep. Hastings' questions at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing today.
The Oregon Democrat is on record as supporting the salmon plan that the Obama administration announced an amended version of yesterday.
In his exchange with Lubchenco today, the NOAA administrator reiterated that the administration considers dam breaching an "option of last resort."
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