Northwest Salmon: Dam Scienceby Editorial Board
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 10, 2007
A federal court ruling on salmon should provoke soul searching within the Bush administration and searching in Congress for systemic solutions. Science needs to be restored to an honest place in the federal government's decision making.
In strong and appropriate terms, a federal court has rejected the false ways the administration tried to revise science and the law to ignore the role of four lower Snake River dams in destroying salmon runs. The administration claimed the dams had to be treated as part of the natural landscape. A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled the feds had indulged themselves in "sleight of hand," manipulation and a uniquely "cramped view" of their ability to protect endangered species.
Despite the administration's tendency to abuse the facts, science has a large role to play in protecting salmon. Congress should act on a proposal for major studies of the salmon's condition and the costs of partially or fully removing the dams. Seattle Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott and Wisconsin Republican Jim Petri sponsor the proposal.
Congress and the administration (assuming it might want to act more credibly in its remaining 21-plus months before 1-20-2009) ought to seek a better system for joining science and policy. Despite the existence of a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the administration seems to have launched science and policy into separate dimensions.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.
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