Salmon Protection Plan isn't Broken,
by Terry Flores
With U.S. District Judge James Redden's recent ruling on the federal salmon plan, we've seen the usual onslaught of anti-hydro groups revving up their propaganda machinery, overreaching and claiming "victory" on a ruling that essentially preserves the plan. Even more astounding, they purport to "speak for business" on this issue.
Not so fast.
First, the judge sent the plan back to the federal agencies, asking for more clarity on a fairly narrow issue -- habitat restoration benefits after 2013.
Shouts of "illegal" or the plan being tossed out are a gross over-generalization.
In fact, the judge gave the go-ahead to federal agencies to continue implementing the plan until 2014 -- because it is working, as witnessed by some of the highest salmon returns we've seen in decades.
The plan includes new technologies that move salmon safely past the dams, improvements in how fish are produced and managed at hatcheries, and a massive program to restore thousands of miles of habitat to help salmon thrive.
He did not question the plan's science, which was endorsed by the Obama administration and independent scientists.
Nor did he agree to change hydro operations; he maintained his own court-ordered water flows already in place.
And he did not accept litigants' arguments over what the law requires to protect and recover species -- the question at the heart of the legal case.
Does this sound like some kind of a wholesale condemnation of the salmon plan by the judge?
Furthermore, attempts by a smorgasbord of chefs, specialty food retailers and commercial fishing representatives (all of whom could better help save wild salmon by not killing, selling or serving them) and eco-outdoor apparel peddlers to speak for broad business interests on this issue is absurd.
It has been, and will continue to be, the Northwest's hard-working families and businesses who are footing this plan's bill through their electric rates to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Everyone is already paying for this plan, and we all deserve the chance to make it work.
Moreover, in their demands for a broad "stakeholder" process led by President Barack Obama and Congress to develop a new salmon plan, they must have conveniently forgotten the past six years of unprecedented collaboration -- probably because they didn't like the result. What we really need is less process and more action -- which is why the vast majority of Northwest tribes, states, farmers, ports and businesses have supported the salmon plan.
While the theatrics of anti-hydro interests grab headlines, it's a lot more productive to stay engaged with our tribal, state and federal agency partners to fine-tune and implement the salmon protection plan that we know is working.
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