A Biological Opinion factors in the effect of climate change on California salmon runs and the orcas that depend on them. So why is the recent BiOp by NOAA on the Columbia and Snake so oblivious? By Daniel Jack Chasan
Has the Obama administration gone schizophrenic on salmon? Wild-salmon advocates who were disappointed when the Obama administration defended the last Bush Biological Opinion on Columbia River dam operations say that the government not only could have done better, it did better, just a few months back. They point to the government's recent Biological Opinion on operation of the Central Valley Project and California State Water Project as examples of what NOAA should have done here. The California opinion looks at impacts on salmon and other fish in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems, and on the Southern Resident Killer Whales (aka Puget Sound orcas) that eat some of those salmon. It is “better and I would say significantly better” than what the government has done on the Columbia, says Earthjustice attorney Steve Mashuda. It's “not necessarily a road map” for dealing with all the Columbia's particular problems, but it does address some crucial issues “probably in the best way we know how.” You can expect salmon advocates to use some of the approaches and some of the science that NOAA employed in California to attack what NOAA has done — or failed to do — in the Northwest.