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Commentaries and editorials

Riders in Action

Heather Weiner, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund - September 29, 2000

Luckily, many Northwest leaders oppose Gorton's salmon rider; Oregon Governor Kitzhaber, Washington Senator Patty Murray, Representative McDermott (Washington), Representative DeFazio (Oregon), Representative Hooley (Oregon) and Representative Blumenauer (Oregon) have all joined the White House in decrying Gorton's rider. The White House has already threatened to veto Gorton's Interior Appropriations bill for this and other riders.

Because there are only a few legislative days left in the 106th Congress, and the funding bill in question is in the last stages of approval, there will be no public input or debate on the rider. Hill staff predict that the Interior bill will be go to the House floor for a vote very soon. Congress should oppose this rider, and President Clinton should veto such a package, not as endorsement of dam removal, but as a sign of support for salmon recovery.

A White House aide points out that, "if George W. Bush is serious about restoring salmon without breaching the dams, he ought to tell his Republican colleagues on the Hill to, at the very least, support our proposal for restoring salmon. You can't say, on the one hand, 'take this option off the table,' and then not support other options."

It's true. In the middle of the political firestorm, salmon get baked. Congress isn't going to come close to funding the Administration's $306 million request for salmon restoration activities next year. Gorton's arrogant assumption that he can tell the public what we can and cannot consider undermines salmon recovery, and stifles public debate on what could be the nation's most important endangered species decision in the next decade. If Gorton believes dam removal is clearly wrong for salmon and the nation, then he should trust us to come to that conclusion ourselves.

Heather Weiner is the Senior Legislative Counsel at the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund.
Riders in Action September 29, 2000

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