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Commentaries and editorials

Snake River Update

by Doc Hastings, U.S. Congressman
Othello Outlook, January 27, 2010

As a new decade begins, a majority of Northwest residents know removal of the Lower Snake River dams is an extreme action that would cause real economic harm. Yet, the dam removal crusade continues. The campaign is extremely well-funded and well-coordinated.

President Bush was clear that dam removal wouldn't happen on his watch. By taking dam removal off the table, an unprecedented degree of collaboration occurred between federal agencies, states and Indian tribes. The result was a plan for managing the Columbia-Snake River system in a manner that provides for fish recovery and protects our economy and tens of thousands of jobs.

This plan, or "BiOp," which is short for Biological Opinion, had the support of all federal agencies, three states and almost all major Indian tribes in the region.

I don't 100 percent agree with the BiOp, but it had the virtue of broad consensus, the latest science, full protection of the Snake River Dams and a recognition that considerable improvements had been made to our hydropower system to benefit fish survival and recovery.

Early in 2009, the federal judge overseeing the dam removal lawsuit invited the new president's administration to review the 2008 BiOp.

In mid-September, the administration told the court it supported the BiOp but added several new provisions. Included among the changes made by the Obama Administration was to again put dam removal on the table as an option.

Administration officials stressed that dam removal would be an option of "last resort," but I was highly critical to again opening the door to dam removal. My fear is, before extremists are done in court, Obama's "last resort" position on dam removal could be advanced forward to a more imminent or present-day scenario.

Now, the question is: Should an activist judge side with dam removal extremists and advance forward the dam removal option in any way from the current "last resort" framework created by the administration? Or will President Obama hold the line and refuse to yield this position?

The question is their commitment to dam removal being a true "last resort." The future of our region's economy and thousands of jobs could depend on their keeping their word.

It's important to remember, though, federal judges can't order dam removal. It's the sole power of Congress to control whether dam removal occurs.

As the top Republican of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees federal dams, I'll do everything I can to stop such an extreme, job-killing action.

Othello Outlook online discussion

bluefish says:

Try as I have, Hasting's office has failed to provide any evidence to support his often repeated assertion that "removal of the Lower Snake River dams is an extreme action that would cause real economic harm." The latest proposed salmon plan seeks an economic analysis that would test the Congressman's assertion. Do you think Doc Hasting's is in favor of such an analysis? Call him an ask for yourself.

(509)543-9396 Pasco, Washington
(202) 225-5816 Washington, DC

At my only interest in the issue is that information be provided. It is my belief that well-informed decision-makers will best be able to make well-informed choices regarding the recovery of Idaho's anadromous fish.

Doc Hastings U.S. Congressman
Snake River Update
Othello Outlook, January 27, 2010

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