House Stands Up for Idaho's
BOISE -- Only eight Democrats stood up to a sweeping move by Republican leadership to pass a nonbinding resolution supporting the state's efforts to intervene in a water lawsuit filed by environmental groups.
The resolution passed 62-8 and goes now to the Senate.
Five environmental groups led by Washington, D.C.-based American Rivers are suing state water users in federal court to have a judge consider the effects of about a dozen dams on endangered salmon and steelhead fish.
The groups contend that the dams prevent the fish from reaching the Pacific Ocean, where they live for years before returning upstream to breed and die.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has asked a federal judge to allow Idaho to enter the case to protect the state's sovereignty and control of its water.
The resolution was presented on the House floor by Speaker Bruce Newcomb, who said out-of-state people are trying to tell Idaho how to use its natural resources.
"This is the eastern U.S. wants to have the western U.S. as its own park," Newcomb said.
Rep. David Langhorst opposed the resolution, saying it offered a false choice between farmers, who use precious river water for crops, and endangered salmon and steelhead stocks, which need full streams to carry them to the Pacific Ocean.
"This says Idaho values its water. We can all agree on that. But this also says we really aren't serious about protecting national resources, our wild salmon. It creates a false sense of choices."
But numerous lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said they doubted the scientific work that has identified the four lower Snake River Dams in Washington state as the main reason oceangoing fish stocks have dwindled.
Cuddy Introduces New Bill to Study Effects of Hydropower on Salmon by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 3/19/4
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