In addition to last week's rebuke to the Obama Administration from Judge Redden, two other developments have occurred recently that strongly suggest the time is right for the Obama administration and Members of Congress to bring together the various stakeholders affected by the failed efforts to restore salmon populations to the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Many people in these communities want to explore effective, science-based solutions to address the longstanding problems and uncertainty about the future.
Great News on Clean Energy: A twenty-year energy plan for the Pacific Northwest released last week shows that replacing the energy of the lower Snake River dams is both affordable and achievable. Read on for more info.
Scientists Deliver Verdict on Obama's Plan: A review by the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society concludes that the Obama Administration’s amendment (the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan, or AMIP) to the 2008 Bush Salmon Plan is inadequate, does not always rely on the best scientific information, and is unlikely to protect endangered salmon and steelhead from extinction. More info below.--------------------------------
Courtroom Update: Late last week, we sent a note to salmon and clean energy advocates with some good news from the court overseeing the litigation about the fate of salmon and dams in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
In a letter to the Obama Administration, Judge James Redden acknowledged that while there were some positive developments in the government's latest salmon plan, he still has significant procedural and substantive concerns. More on Judge Redden's letter and order.
Northwest Power and Conservation Council releases 6th Power Plan
Replacing the power from the lower Snake River dams won't raise power bills The Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC) is a 30-year-old agency created by Congress to guide Pacific Northwest energy choices. Every five years, the Council’s eight governor-appointed members – two each from Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon -- issues a new 20-year plan assessing regional electric needs and identifying which resources to use in meeting them. The Council's just-approved Sixth Northwest Power and Conservation Plan affects salmon restoration efforts and national energy policy in several ways:
- The plan demonstrates that the Northwest can easily and affordably meet all anticipated growth in electric demand over the next 20 years almost entirely with energy efficiency and new renewable resources. We need no new coal plants intensifying the climate changes already bringing river temperatures to levels lethal to fish.
- It includes – for the first time – an assessment of the costs of replacing the power now produced by the four lower Snake River dams if and when they must be removed to protect and restore endangered wild salmon and steelhead.
The Council stops short of recommending the closure of coal plants now serving the Northwest, an action it says is necessary to meet state and regional commitments to reduced carbon emissions. Nor does it endorse lower Snake River dam breaching, even though its study shows replacing the dams' energy wouldn’t raise utility bills at all.That analysis replaces the dams' output with about 200 megawatts of new natural-gas-fired power (one small plant) and 145 average megawatts of additional, readily available conservation. Power rates might increase 2-4 percent, but because of all the cheaper-than-power energy efficiency in the plan, overall consumer bills actually would decline. That’s great news for salmon and fishermen and Northwest energy customers! And it’s further evidence that bringing together stakeholders to work collaboratively on a legal and comprehensive solution to the salmon crisis is the way to go, and the way to go right now! For more information:
Northwest can meet most energy needs with conservation, council says - Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman Visit the NW Energy Coalition - one of Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition's key partners.
Independent Scientists Find Obama's Salmon Plan Additions "Inadequate"
American Fisheries Society’s review reveals flaws with risky and insufficient salmon measures This week, the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society also released a scientific review of the Obama Administration's proposed additions to its Columbia Basin salmon plan. The society's assessment concludes that the addendum, issued by the government last September and known as the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan or AMIP, is not aggressive, rigorous, or specific enough to help bolster imperiled runs of wild salmon and steelhead. The American Fisheries Society is the world's largest and oldest organization of fisheries professionals; its 3,500-member Western Division covers the 13 western states and British Columbia, including the entire Columbia Basin. In its review, AFS's Western Division stated that while the AMIP includes some measures that are helpful to salmon, those actions are still "inadequate for ensuring the protection of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin." Further, the review concludes that the AMIP "does not always use the 'best scientific information,'" while its Rapid Response Actions – a central feature of the government's salmon plan postscript – are neither rapid nor particularly responsive. "With this review, the independent scientists of the American Fisheries Society have shed some much-needed light on a topic that has already generated quite a bit of heat," said Jim Martin, former chief of fisheries for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "These experts looked at the AMIP and asked two all-important questions: does it do enough to help struggling salmon, and does it utilize the best science? Unfortunately, the answer to both questions appears to be no." Read the Western Division of AFS's review of the Obama Administration’s AMIP
Legal Update: Judge tells Obama administration to go back and get it right. On February 10th, Judge James Redden, who is hearing the long-running legal challenge to the Columbia Basin salmon plan, sent a letter rejecting the federal government's proposal to shoehorn some last minute, after-the-fact additions into the 2008 Bush Salmon Plan and call it "good." The judge offered several suggestions to the federal agencies, and has given them until February 19 to decide what they will do. On Procedure: Judge Redden rejected the federal government's proposal to shoehorn some last minute amendments into the 2008 Bush Salmon Plan that the Obama Administration adopted and tried to call good. The judge offered several suggestions to the federal agencies, and has given them until February 19 to decide what they’ll do. On Substance: In his letter the judge emphasized that a lawful plan must be based on "the best available science. They [federal agencies] cannot rely exclusively on materials that support one position, while ignoring new or opposing scientific information." This is a very important issue, and one that we have been raising for a very long time, and have been urging the Obama Administration to address openly and transparently. (link to locke campaign) Read the Judge's letter and order. Here is a link to two of the recent articles on the judge's latest action: Colin Miner’s Green Inc. blog in the New York Times. The Oregonian's Matt Preusch: Judge says he can't consider Obama administration's salmon and dams plan