Army OKs Bonneville Summer Spill Planby Associated Press
Desert Sun, July 7, 2004
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday approved a hydroelectric dam summer spill plan proposed by the Bonneville Power Administration and criticized by Indian tribes, fishermen and environmental groups.
Brig. Gen. William Grisoli, regional commander for the Corps, signed the so-called "statement of decision" that will allow Bonneville to proceed with its recommended plan for spilling water over four Columbia and Snake river dams to aid salmon migration downstream to the ocean.
Grisoli noted the plan meets the requirements of the Northwest Power Act and had been endorsed by the governors of Idaho, Montana and Washington state. Bonneville officials said they did not know why Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski had not endorsed the plan, and the governorís spokeswoman was not immediately available.
NOAA Fisheries decided last week the proposed spill plan meets the needs of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Bonneville officials estimate the plan will save Northwest ratepayers up to $28 million this year by balancing power generation and salmon conservation needs.
"We are interested in finding sustainable fish and wildlife solutions that benefit both fish and ratepayers," Grisoli said in a prepared statement. "Our overall goal is to maintain fish protection while reducing costs to the region."
But environmental groups renewed their opposition to the plan, which they criticized as bad conservation policy by the Bush administration.
"This short-sighted decision will likely kill thousands of salmon and steelhead and will further undermine the Bush administrationís salmon plan, which has already been found inadequate by a federal court and has not been fully funded or implemented," said Rob Masonis, Northwest regional director of American Rivers.
He said the typical Northwest household will save only 8 cents to 36 cents a month on electric bills as a result of the spill plan.
Northwest Indian tribes have threatened to sue Bonneville to force the federal power marketing agency to boost spills for salmon.
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