New Plan for Snake River Dams and Salmonby Benito Baeza
News Radio 1310 KLIX, September 10, 2013
The Obama administration has offered its latest plan for making 14 hydroelectric dams that provide cheap electricity for the Northwest safe for salmon. The NOAA Fisheries Service on Monday released a 751-page draft of the court-ordered plan known as a biological opinion.
The last plan was struck down in 2011 for depending too much on habitat improvements and failing to consider the possibility of breaching four dams on the Snake River in Eastern Washington.
The new plan says that current dam operations are working fine, and habitat improvements are on track to be fully implemented by 2018. It does not consider the possibility of spilling more water over the dams to increase the survival of young salmon, or the possibility of breaching those four Snake River dams.
Judge James A. Redden, August 2, 2011 National Wildlife Federation. v. NMFS
Excerpt from OPINION AND ORDER:
I recognize the inherent uncertainty in making predictions about the effects of future actions. If NOAA Fisheries cannot rely on benefits from habitat improvement simply because they cannot conclusively quantify those benefits, they have no incentive to continue to fund these vital habitat improvements. Moreover, requiring certainty with respect to the effects of a mitigation plan would effectively prohibit NOAA Fisheries from using any novel approach to avoiding jeopardy, including dam removal.
No later than January 1, 2014, NOAA Fisheries shall produce a new biological opinion that reevaluates the efficacy of the RPAs in avoiding jeopardy, identifies reasonably specific mitigation plans for the life of the biological opinion, and considers whether more aggressive action, such as dam removal andor additional flow augmentation and reservoir modifications are necessary to avoid jeopardy. As a practical matter, it may be difficult for Federal Defendants to develop a long-term biological opinion that relies only on mitigation measures that are reasonably certain to occur.
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