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Groups Sue Dam Regulators over Snake River Hydro Operations

by Associated Press
The Spokesman Review
- May 2, 2003

Appointment of Idaho's Marsha Smith to FERC would give region some clout, writes Bert Caldwell.

Associated Press BOISE _ Two conservation groups have brought a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for allegedly neglecting its responsibility to ensure endangered Snake River salmon runs are not damaged by hydropower dams.

Boise-based Idaho Rivers United and American Rivers jointly filed a petition demanding the commission consult with the federal government regarding possible environmental damage due to the Hells Canyon Hydropower Complex.

The three dams are owned and operated by Idaho Power Company under a license granted by the commission.

The groups claim that the energy commission must consult with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under rules established by the Endangered Species Act.

The commission's refusal to comply prompted the suit.

Additionally, Idaho Power Company refuses to release water needed in the migration of salmon and steelhead without federal compensation.

Under the licensing agreement, the commission can force Idaho Power to release the water.

Idaho Power contends it has spent $40 million to study impacts on everything from recreation to water quality, including affects on salmon runs.

Idaho Power spokesman Dennis Lopez said the company is negotiating with the commission about the environmental directives while the complex is being relicensed. The current license expires in 2005.

Groups Sue Dam Regulators over Snake River Hydro Operations
The Spokesman Review May 2, 2003

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