the film
Commentaries and editorials

Judge Goes Too Far
in Trying to Manage Dams

by Editorial Board, Associated Press
Union-Bulletin, December 16, 2007

It is particularly concerning because Judge James Redden
seems to be fixated on breaching the Snake River dams.

Perhaps James Redden should have sought employment at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Bonneville Power Administration.

After all, the U.S. District Court judge seems obsessed with managing the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Redden appears ready to step out of his role as judge. He told federal dam operators last week that their latest efforts to save salmon do not appear to be any better than two previous failed plans. He indicated he would take over the process this spring if their efforts don't meet his standard.

That's going too far. Then again, that's not surprising for Redden. He's gone over-the-top in the past.

In 2004, Redden overstepped his authority when he established policy on how much water should be spilled over dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Redden ruled that the federal government could not reduce the amount of water it spills over the dams.

BPA had planned on running more water through the dams' turbines to generate needed electricity. The goal was to save ratepayers between $18 million to $28 million. The Corps, which operates the dams, and the National Marine Fisheries Service signed off on the plan because it was concluded that reducing the spill would not harm efforts to protect endangered chinook salmon.

Redden was substituting his judgment for the judgment of Bonneville, Corps of Engineers and Marine Fisheries officials. It was a mistake then, and it is a mistake now.

The plan that Redden dismisses as unfit was approved by NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of salmon recovery. The agency has used experts to reach this conclusion.

Redden's conclusions seem to be based only on his gut feelings.

But even more concerning is Redden's fixation with breaching the four dams on the lower Snake River. The judge reminded the parties to the lawsuit that he wants to see an analysis of removing the four dams.

The issue has been looked at by experts, including those at the Corps, and the conclusion was that dam breaching would do more harm than good.

The Corps' report in 2002 said dam breaching would increase the chances of salmon restoration only slightly - if at all - while taking a huge toll on the economy of the region surrounding the dams.

Judge Redden should stick to interpreting the law and leave managing the dams and salmon restoration to the experts.

Related Pages:
Judge Redden is All We've Got by Editorial Board, The Daily Astorian, 12/13/7

Walla-Walla Union-Bulletin's online comment board wrote on Dec 16, 2007 7:34 AM:

" Once again I remind the Union-Bulletin Editorial Board of their mistatement which they repeatedly continue to promote. The Corp's Report of 2002 found that the region would have an economic loss of $250 million per year. $250 million per year is the value they attributed to the electricity production of the four Lower Snake dams and this estimate is still good today. The Corps never said it would "take a huge toll on the economy of the region surrounding the dams" - those are the words of the editorial board and other dam supporters. Unfortunately, the Union-Bulletin continues to be more interested in promoting their postion than in informing their readership as to the truth of the issue. I for one, can stand behind what I say - just contact me through the website which aims to promote an open and honest dialogue on this important issue. " wrote on Dec 16, 2007 7:39 AM:

" Also of interest, is that recent legal rulings on the BPA's Residential Exchange Program is withholding $250 million per year from the region. Do you feel that this is "taking a huge toll on the economy of the region?" "

wally wrote on Dec 16, 2007 10:06 PM:

" We need the dams. "

truth wrote on Dec 17, 2007 6:22 AM:

" check your facts bluefish... "

truth wrote on Dec 17, 2007 6:23 AM:

" more facts... "

truth wrote on Dec 17, 2007 6:32 AM:

" in case you're interested in more more truth, check here... that should just about do it for now... "

FishMan wrote on Dec 17, 2007 6:38 AM:

" Bluefish and all the others who favor dam removal continue to ignore the one 70-year old science experiment that trumps all the speculative and theoretical models out there: the Columbia/Snake dams started operation in 1937 (w/ Bonneville Dam) and no fish has gone extinct. Dams and fish can co-exist. Get over it. "

Susan wrote on Dec 17, 2007 7:54 AM:

" Response to comments above about the $250 million: 1. Letters from Public power, Private power, NW Governors, NW congressional members and the general public about the suspension of the REP payments paint a different picture about the impact to their rates! Residential Exchange Program Comment period close date: 2008-06/01 2. March - (pdf 244 KB) The costs of breaching the four lower Snake River dams. 3. Using selective data is misinformation! "

Sam wrote on Dec 18, 2007 6:57 AM:

" I find it humorous that the only data dam supporters provide comes directly from the agency/special interest that has the most to lose if the dams were removed...BPA/ACOE As for the 70 year science experiment that hasn't resulted in any fish extinctions. Research the history of Idaho's coho salmon in the Clearwater River (now extinct). Look at the Snake River Sockeye salmon. Annual returns of approximately 3 to 20 fish over the last 15 years and those fish are all hatchery fish. How about knowing approximately 80 percent of the steelhead run returning to Idaho is of hatchery origin. Those don't sound like sound results from the vaunted experiment. "

Editorial Board
Judge Goes Too Far in Trying to Manage Dams
Union-Bulletin, December 16, 2007

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