Utility Information is Misleadingby Devin Monte
Register-Guard, September 24, 2011
As a customer of a public utility (Eugene Water & Electric Board) I feel I deserve something more than a blatant misrepresentation of the facts from the industry's chief lobbyist. Contrary to Scott Corwin's Sept. 10 opinion piece ("No need to rethink salmon plan that pays healthy returns"), U.S. District Judge James Redden ruled the plan for Columbia River and Snake River salmon illegal, deeming it "arbitrary and capricious."
For their 10-year plan, the federal agencies have no stated actions to improve salmon habitat after 2013. Snake River salmon populations still hover at 2 percent of their historic numbers and the federal agencies remain well below even their own minimum recovery goals for each species of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers listed under the Endangered Species Act. The "record returns" Corwin touts makes me wonder: Compared to what? I'm no expert but I have a hard time trusting salmon analysis by the head of a utility lobby.
Ultimately what is of most concern is Corwin's unwillingness to sit down and discuss new ways forward. The salmon issue has been in court for well over a decade. Energy ratepayers are footing the bill for salmon policies that aren't following the law. Talks that include all stakeholders and look at all options have not occurred. It's time for the Northwest congressional delegation to bring the parties -- farmers, fishermen, energy users -- together to hash out a lasting solution.
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