the film
Commentaries and editorials

Presidency Seekers Should be Ready
for Salmon Issue

by the Editors
Idaho Statesman, November 30, 1999

Vice President Al Gore, who has spent much of his political career championing environmental issues, has been strangely silent on the issue of salmon protection.

The administration, of which he has been a part for almost seven years, has done virtually nothing to resolve the salmon debate, and he has given no clue as to whether he favors breaching dams or any other protection measure.

His Democratic friends in the Northwest are divided on the issue, with some favoring dam breaching and others opposed. Gore has refused to take a leadership role on the issue.

However, the vice president isn't the only one sitting on the sidelines. Gore's main challenger for the Democratic nomination, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, has not taken a position on the issue, and neither has Republican candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the GOP front-runner, has said he favors protecting salmon, but opposes removing dams - which blends with the thinking of his leading Republican supporters in the Northwest. Bush has not identified specifically what salmon-protection measures he favors.

It's still early in the presidential campaign, but at some point candidates should study the issue and take clear and informed stands. Those who reject breaching - which has significant support as the most scientific and economically sound approach to protecting salmon - should present alternatives that will meet the biological and legal tests.

Interest in the salmon issue is not confined to the Pacific Northwest. A national coalition favoring breaching, for instance, has purchased full-page ads in The New York Times.

As the candidates stake out their positions, they should pay close attention to the progress of the study conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service. We hope, in the end, the candidates will use the study as their guide, rather than pandering to political allies.

What happens over the next few years could mean the difference between survival and extinction for salmon as well as the economic future of the region. The next president must be involved in resolving the salmon issue.

by the Editors
Presidency Seekers Should be Ready for Salmon Issue
Idaho Statesman, November 30, 1999

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