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Commentaries and editorials

Reaction to Judge Redden's pro-Breach Comments

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, April 26, 2012

Judge James Redden in his chamber library talking with reporter Eric Barker. Supporters of the four lower Snake River Dams continued to express disappointment today over retired judge James Redden's public support for dam breaching.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and Terry Flores, executive director of the Portland based industry group Northwest RiverPartners said his remarks reveals he was biased against their side in the long running salmon versus dams court case.

"Judge Redden's remarks do provide insight into why no salmon plan, no matter how comprehensive, collaborative, scientifically sound or expensive met with his complete approval since they did not include removal of the Snake River dams. It would appear that nothing short of an extreme action like dam removal would have satisfied the Judge," said Terry Flores, executive director of Northwest River Partners, an industry group based in Portland.

"This interview candidly reveals the activist bias of Judge Redden that I and many in the Pacific Northwest have suspected for years. Due to his personal views, this one judge unilaterally dragged and drove costly litigation on for nearly a decade," said Hastings.

On three separate occasions, Redden ruled that government plans aimed at reconciling dam operations and the needs of adult and juvenile salmon and steelhead protected by the ESA did not go far enough to ensure the fish would survive. He retired from the case last November.

Redden told Idaho Public Television reporter Eric Barker: "I think we need to take those dams down," during an interview for a program on Salmon Recovery. The show is scheduled to air in July.

Kunz released excerpts of the interview that can be viewed here.

Groups that support breaching the dams said there is nothing wrong with Redden expressing his opinion.

"By virtue of his position, Judge Redden has followed this issue and the science of this issue perhaps more closely than anyone in the Pacific Northwest. So his position is an informed one, and we agree with him," said Bill Sedivy, executive director of the Boise-based Idaho Rivers United.

Sedivy and other members of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition are citing Redden's comments in their continued call for the federal government to convene a region-wide collaborative process aimed at finding a solution to salmon and steelhead passage problems.

""In order to restore Idaho's precious salmon to self-sustaining and abundant levels, the lower Snake River dams will eventually have to come down. To get there, we've got to bring together all stakeholders in this issue to make certain that salmon recovery efforts - including dam removal - work for people as well as for fish," said Sedivy.

Statements released by Flores and Hastings are pasted below.


Terry Flores

Northwest RiverPartners is extremely disappointed in recent remarks made by Judge James Redden concerning litigation on federal hydro system operations that he previously presided over.

Judge Redden's remarks do provide insight into why no salmon plan, no matter how comprehensive, collaborative, scientifically sound or expensive met with his complete approval since they did not include removal of the Snake River dams. It would appear that nothing short of an extreme action like dam removal would have satisfied the Judge. Further, dam removal was not an issue before the court, nor could it be ordered by the court. Only Congress has that authority.

We are astonished at Judge Redden's lack of appreciation for the value of the Snake River dams to the Northwest. There is simply no question that the Snake River dams are a tremendous resource for the region, generating enough clean renewable energy to power a city the size of Seattle. And let's not forget those dams provide irrigation for farmers to grow and ship crops that feed the Northwest and the world.

Furthermore, suggesting that removing the Snake dams would be quick, easy or inexpensive and could simply be accomplished by 'just digging out the ditch' is bizarre. In fact, according to a National Academy of Sciences report: 'Dam removal and drawdown of those rivers …would be enormously expensive, would take many years, and probably would have long-term adverse impacts on the rivers.'

Fortunately, it's clear that the actions being taken by the federal agencies, states and tribes -- who are working together implementing real measures in the plan to help salmon -- are working. This decade we've seen remarkable increases in the salmon runs and this year is no exception: adult returns of spring Chinook are already well above the ten year average and more are on the way.

Despite the Judge's comments, there is simply no disputing reality: the salmon plan is based in the best possible science, as confirmed in an independent science review by the Obama Administration and world class scientists; it was developed in an unprecedented collaboration that continues today; and it is the most comprehensive and expensive plan to help endangered species anywhere in the country.

Northwest RiverPartners is an alliance of farmers, ports, and utilities that promote science-based salmon restoration and the benefits of the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

(Flores corrected her statement that this year's spring chinook run exceeds the 10-year average. The run is expected to be larger than than the average but so far is lagging behind.)


Rep. Doc Hastings,

"This interview candidly reveals the activist bias of Judge Redden that I and many in the Pacific Northwest have suspected for years. Due to his personal views, this one judge unilaterally dragged and drove costly litigation on for nearly a decade.

"He issued unprecedented, questionable and expensive rulings resulting in his literally seizing control of the river system's operation. He ignored clear and sound science that salmon species are returning in numbers greater than before these dams were built, and forced taxpayers to pay for millions of dollars in higher energy bills and lawyers' fees. He ordered the waste of tens of millions of dollars by forcing the spilling of water past dams that science reveals has benefited few, if any, fish, and may have actually harmed them. He's ignored federal science that shows more fish benefit from safe barge transportation, and he's clouded any semblance of the best science and the law regarding federal salmon protection measures supported by three states, many tribes and other stakeholders.

"This one politician-turned-judge kept pursuing his agenda and imposing his own views over the policies of the elected Presidential Administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

"Judge Redden has admitted his bias in favor of the agenda of radical environmental groups whose sole goal is the extreme act of tearing down hydropower dams that provide the vast majority of the power generated for Northwest families and businesses -- about 80 percent for Idaho, 70 percent of Washington and nearly 60 percent for Oregon. This is clean, carbon-free and renewable energy that has supported the Northwest's vibrant agriculture, technological and trade economies for decades.

"Judge Redden's bias is being used to further this radical agenda just months after he announced his retirement from the case and as a new, hopefully impartial, judge has been appointed to oversee the endless and unclear future of litigation he perpetuated.

"It's time for the endless litigation and radical agendas -- bolstered by one man's personal views and grip on a judge's gavel -- to stop and to ensure that the Northwest will be given certainty that a plan supported by states, tribes and others will be approved to ensure that dams keep producing clean, renewable hydropower and allow for abundant salmon for generations to come."

As Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee in the 112th Congress, Mr. Hastings' top priorities are reducing spending, creating American jobs, and ensuring thoughtful oversight of the Obama Administration's policies and decisions. As a native westerner, Chairman Hastings has an acute knowledge and understanding of the diverse issues under the Committee's jurisdiction.

Specifically, Chairman Hastings' interests include increasing American energy production, ensuring U.S. offshore drilling is the safest in the world, guaranteeing access to public lands for recreation and job creation, effective management of our nation's oceans, and fighting for water rights in the West. Under Chairman Hastings' leadership, the Committee is dedicated to pursuing policies that both strengthen our economy and protect our nation's treasured lands, oceans and wildlife.


Eric Barker
Reaction to Judge Redden's pro-Breach Comments
Lewiston Tribune, April 26, 2012

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