After U.S. District Judge James Redden accepted the Obama administration's request for an additional 30 days to seek a deal on its salmon and dam plan, a coalition of environmentalists, fishermen, sporting industry groups, the Nez Perce tribe and the state of Oregon have asked Redden for a meeting with the federal government and its allies with him in the room.
And they have released documents that they got using the Freedom of Information Act that show that the Bonneville Power Administration apparently exaggerated the amount of power that would be needed to replace the four Lower Snake dams in Washington.
BPA said Lower Snake River dam removal would require building three nuclear plants to replace up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity and would cost as much as $800 million per year in energy replacement costs. But the Northwest Power and Conservation Council says the power could be replaced with one or two natural gas plants at a cost of approximately $170 million to $320 million per year -- less than half the BPA estimate.
But what really irks the salmon advocates is that the Obama administration hardly met with them while working closely with BPA and other federal agencies under its control.
During the review, the Obama administration met with the plaintiff parties only twice -- once with the fishing and conservation groups and once with Oregon and the Nez Perce tribe, the groups claimed in a press release.
Federal agencies spent most of the last 100 days talking internally, relying heavily on information presented by BPA Director Steve Wright and other regional agency leaders who crafted the current biological opinion.
"Adopting this plan is bad for salmon and threatens to undermine protections for imperiled species across the country," said Nicole Cordan, legal and policy director of the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition. "On both substance and process we believe the Obama administration, like the Bush administration, has failed to heed the science and the court's guidance.
"We expected more from this administration."
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