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Commentaries and editorials

Tri-Cities Chamber Opposes
Nomination to Interior Post

by John Trumbo
The Bellingham Herald, July 7, 2011

The White House's choice for assistant secretary of the Department of Interior has triggered strong opposition from throughout the Pacific Northwest, including a call to action from the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Colin Hastings, executive director of the chamber, said Rebecca Wodder's public stance on removal of the dams on the lower Snake River makes her a bad candidate for the job that would have her overseeing the nation's fish, wildlife and parks issues for the federal agency.

As CEO of the environmental group, American Rivers, she has led the charge to take out dams in an effort to enhance fish recovery, he said.

"We as a chamber do not want to sit on our hands on this issue," Hastings said, noting that the Obama administration has supported the fish recovery plan for the Pacific Northwest, known as the biological opinion, or BiOp, and that the plan has seen dramatic increases in salmon and steelhead recovery with the Snake River dams remaining.

Benton County commissioners agreed to join the chamber campaign urging U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to oppose Wodder's confirmation.

A letter signed by 19 representatives of power and agricultural interests from four states in the Pacific Northwest was sent this week.

The letter to the senators noted that Wodder has been president of American Rivers since 1995, and most recently opposed the Obama administration's BiOp for salmon recovery in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

"Ms. Wodder personally objects to this plan for operation of the river system ... (and) we question her objectivity on this issue and her suitability for the position," the letter said.

Terry Flores, executive director for the Northwest River Partners, which helped draft the letter, said Wodder's nomination hasn't been heard by the two Senate committees that will consider her appointment, but action should be coming within the next few weeks.

Those committees are the Committee on Environmental and Public Works and the Committee Energy and National Resources Committee, on which Cantwell is a member.

Related Sites:
Idaho Water Users Association Opposition to Nomination of Wodder

John Trumbo
Tri-Cities Chamber Opposes Nomination to Interior Post
The Bellingham Herald, July 7, 2011

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