Dam Spill Order Goes to Appeals Courtby Staff
Lewiston Tribune, August 6, 2004
SPOKANE -- A federal appeals court has been asked to allow operators of four dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers to conserve water this month for additional electric generation, even though opponents contend that will hurt endangered salmon runs.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a federal judge's order last week that said more water must be spilled over the dams now, to help flush migrating young salmon to the Pacific Ocean.
The federal dam operators believe they can release enough water to help the fish, while conserving some to generate valuable electricity as river flows drop through the summer.
Environmental groups immediately denounced the appeal. "The agency's decision to fight this ruling is a slap in the face to fishing communities, Native American tribes, and conservationists as well as everyone else that has worked to restore wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers," said Todd True, an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, which is suing federal agencies over the issue.
The move would save consumers a few pennies on power bills, while seriously damaging the restoration of wild salmon runs, True said.
"Officials estimate that up to a half-million young salmon, some protected by the Endangered Species Act, will perish if the water is withheld," True said.
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