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Commentaries and editorials

Salmon Take Another Political Hit

by Editors
Idaho Mountain Express, September 8, 2004

As it has done so many other times since coming to power, the Bush administration has resorted to doublespeak and shell games to impose a policy that has little to do with the public interest.

In its latest scheme, the Bush White House has obviously forced the National Marine Fisheries Service to abruptly abandon its position of four years ago on rescuing salmon from near-extinction. Last week, NMFS changed direction 180 degrees from its 2000 belief that breaching four lower Snake River dams is a solution, to the new 2004 position of not breaching dams.

One can reasonably conclude that politics, not science, brought about this change of heart at NMFS.

The new NMFS plan involves installing spillway weirs to help guide salmon through dams during migration to the Pacific.

This is like putting lipstick and earrings on a hog to make it kissable. The lower Snake dams remain, and dams continue to be the main impediment to the survival of salmon, once a treasured mainstay in the culture and economy of the Northwest.

If this new policy is a shock to groups battling to save salmon, imagine the surprise the White House policy will be to ranchers, loggers, miners and farmers: More of the economic burden for protecting salmon will be shifted to them.

President Bush and his advisers have shown an astonishing and unrelenting insensitivity to science and nature, plus a predilection for mowing down whatever appears to show some promise in advancing the public interest.

The president has rejected imposing improved fuel efficiencies on automakers. He considers global warming a myth. He kept Yellowstone open to polluting snowmobiles. He reneged on a promise to impose tougher carbon dioxide limits on power plants. He waved off stem cell research as an overrated cure for diseases and refused to aggressively fund the science.

What’s alarming is that President Bush has inflicted costly, irreversible damage on the environment and set back orderly solutions to problems affecting the well-being of people as well.

Rejecting the more realistic solution now for protecting salmon—breaching Snake River dams—only means the decision must eventually be made on another president’s watch and as an emergency measure.

If reelected, the president unquestionably would maintain the momentum of the past four years for another four, threatening even greater penalties to a nation that prides itself on progress and scientific enlightenment.

Salmon Take Another Political Hit
Idaho Mountain Express - September 8, 2004

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