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Commentaries and editorials

NW House Delegation Supports
Reduced Spill Tests

by CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - March 19, 2004

Ten Northwest members of Congress support the Bonneville Power Administration's efforts to test reduced summer spill operations.

However, they ask for up to three years of testing and say the change in spill operations should be mitigated and result in the same or better conditions for salmon at a lower cost to Northwest electric ratepayers.

In a March 12 letter, Northwest lawmakers acknowledge the analyses by BPA -- which supports an earlier analysis by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council -- finding that summer spill provides "limited biological benefit at a significant cost to ratepayers." They also acknowledge that states are critical of the BPA proposal and ask the federal agencies to make those comments public and to respond to them in writing.

The letter was sent to Steve Wright, administrator of BPA; Bob Lohn Northwest regional administrator of NOAA Fisheries, and Brig. Gen. William T. Grisoli, commander of the Northwest Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"We support your efforts to explore more cost-effective means of salmon recovery," the delegation writes. "We urge you to continue those efforts."

They also say that impacts on salmon resulting from the spill tests should be mitigated to "assure salmon runs are left in an equal or better condition than exists today."

"Your analysis shows that full mitigation for the biological harm resulting from reduced spill could -- in theory- - be achieved at lower cost to ratepayers. We believe this analysis should be tested, beginning this summer, for a period of time (perhaps 2-3 years) sufficient to determine whether the expected cost savings and biological benefits can be achieved," the letter says.

They added that the decision to test spill alternatives should be made early this year so that the offset measures can be put into place in time for mitigation to occur in the same year the tests occur.

"We thank you for your efforts in pursuing actions that can meet our twin goals of achieving salmon recovery and striving for a strong economy," the letter concludes.

The letter was organized among the Northwest delegation by co-chairmen of the Northwest Energy Caucus, Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio and Washington's Republican Rep. George Nethercutt, said DeFazio's press secretary Kristine Greco.

Other lawmakers signing the letter are Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Oregon; Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon; Rep Doc Hastings, R-Wash.; Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash.; Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash.; Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, R-Idaho; Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont.

Related Sites:
Congressman Peter DeFazio:
Congressman George Nethercutt:

CBB Staff
NW House Delegation Supports Reduced Spill Tests
Columbia Basin Bulletin, March 19, 2004

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