the film
Commentaries and editorials

Secrecy Serves No Purpose
in Snake River Dam Litigation

by Editorial Board
Capital Press, November 12, 2023

It should be noted that only Congress can appropriate money and change laws.

Map: USA Solar Resources It may be the mother of all "sue-and-settle" cases, with a heaping helping of secrecy added.

Two weeks ago, the federal government and environmental plaintiffs who sued over management of the four lower Snake River dams announced they had reached "a package of actions and commitments."

They also announced that the package was secret, and even the intervenor plaintiffs were not informed of what is included.

They just told everyone to sit tight until Dec. 15, and they would tell the judge, and everyone else, what the deal is.

Taxpayers -- who would foot the bill that could reach tens of billions of dollars -- should be insulted, as should electricity ratepayers. They will pay as well.

Farmers should be insulted. They use water from the Snake River to irrigate their crops and depend on the Snake and Columbia rivers to transport their crops and supplies.

Come to think of it, every American should be insulted by how this case has played out behind closed doors with the help of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Lawsuits should be heard in public, so anyone can listen to the arguments on which the jury or judge bases the outcome.

What has happened in this case is the judge has allowed the litigants to hole up in a Washington, D.C., conference room to figure out what they want to do with the dams and how they are managed.

Only after the "package" is completed will the public -- and Congress -- be let in on the secret.

It should be noted that only Congress can appropriate money and change laws. Activists can't, bureaucrats can't and for darn sure lawyers can't.

The Biden administration has returned to the bad old days of sue-and-settle tactics in cases involving pesticides and the Snake River dams.

In our opinion, this tactic is part of an unspoken alliance with environmental groups. Otherwise, why would a good lawyer with a good case and the resources of the U.S. government cave in to the demands of activists?

Such tactics make no sense, and farmers and ranchers are being victimized.

In the recently settled pesticide "megasuit," the Environmental Protection Agency is setting aside federal laws that dictate how chemicals are to be approved and setting up "pilot" programs across 100 million acres. Beyond that, they are completely reworking how herbicides and other chemicals are used and regulated.

Any time lawyers and unelected bureaucrats say "trust us" and slam the doors shut, we have to wonder what they have to hide.

We elect members of Congress to carry out the business of the nation. They are to operate in the open. Only they can propose legislation, hold hearings or debate issues of import.

The judiciary branch has no business operating in secret, worst of all with the encouragement of the White House.

Editorial Board
Secrecy Serves No Purpose in Snake River Dam Litigation
Capital Press, November 12, 2023

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