Judge Redden to Step Down
Eighty-two-year-old U.S. District Judge James A. Redden -- who has rejected Columbia Basin hydro system operations for failing to protect salmon for more than a decade -- has announced he will ask that the long-running case be assigned to another judge. Although the judge gave no reason for his withdrawal, it was reported he has been reducing his workload.
The judge has left the "biological opinion" for the system in place through 2013, when federal agencies must come up with more specific projects to help salmon. NOAA Fisheries' recommendations include studying salmon migration, monitoring water temperature and other effects of climate change, and creating a team of fisheries managers to resolve potential harm to wild salmon runs by hatchery fish. The administration also agreed to provide an additional $40.5 million to improve salmon habitat in the Columbia River estuary.
Redden has repeatedly rejected biological opinions intended to govern federal hydro system operations on the Columbia and Snake rivers, saying they failed to adequately protect endangered salmon. Each rejection has carried the threat that the judge might eventually order removal of four major U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects on the Lower Snake River: 635-MW Ice Harbor, 810-MW Little Goose, 810-MW Lower Granite and 810-MW Lower Monumental.
Meanwhile, the Federal Caucus -- comprising the Corps, Bureau of Reclamation, and NOAA Fisheries -- filed a brief in November saying the federal government would collaborate with the region's tribes and states to respond to Redden's order to bolster habitat actions in the biological opinion.
"As our progress report shows, improvements to the dams have resulted in 95-99 percent per-dam survival rate for juvenile spring Chinook and steelhead," Corps Director of Programs Dave Ponganis said. "The report also shows how our state and tribal partners are restoring streamside habitat, removing barriers to open up new tributary and estuary habitat, and putting water back in streams."
Judge of the River by Editorial Board, The Oregonian, 12/5/11
We Should Embrace the Cleaner, Greener Technologies of the 21st Century by Reed Burkholder, The Oregonian, December 10, 2011
The State of Washington Appears to Have Come to a Cynical Conclusion by Mary Lynn Gregson, The Oregonian, December 10, 2011
I struck the 2000 BiOp, and the 2004 BiOp, and the 2008/2011 BiOp by James A. Redden, Letter to Counsel, 11/22/11
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