As the title indicates, every June we are reminded of the famed “June hogs” – giant chinook salmon that once migrated back through the Columbia Basin at about this time of the year. We will likely never see those runs again, but there’s still plenty of recovery to be had in one of our planet’s best salmon watersheds.
In this edition:
1. Take Action: The Salmon Solutions and Planning Act
2. Take Action: Don’t let BPA squander clean energy jobs and innovation
3. Update: Obama Plan in Court
4. Salmon Mean Business: Stories from Idaho Rivers United
1) TAKE ACTION: The Salmon Solutions and Planning Act of 2011
On June 3, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), joined by 10 additional co-sponsors from across the nation, introduced the Salmon Solutions and Planning Act (H.R. 2111) in the House of Representatives.
If passed, H.R. 2111 would provide Congress and federal agencies with up-to-date, thorough information about how best to protect and restore wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake River Basin while also supporting local communities and saving taxpayer dollars.
From Congressman McDermott: “The time to act is now. Billions of public and private dollars have been spent on failed recovery projects that put politics over sound science. Failing to act would further jeopardize our struggling salmon populations that provide thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefit for the nation. We must work together to create an innovative restoration strategy that saves this national treasure.”
Urge her/him to cosponsor H.R. 2111
2) Don’t let BPA squander clean energy jobs and innovation
Last year, we faced one of the largest environmental disasters in our nation’s history: the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In many ways, this tragedy helped renew a conversation about our energy future.
While oil was spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest was facing an incredibly stormy spring; lots of wind and rain led to a surplus of energy from both hydroelectric dams and wind turbines. The same situation is playing out this year as well, to an even greater extent.
Rather than use last spring’s abundance of power as an opportunity to expand and diversify the Northwest’s economy and booming clean energy portfolio, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) – which manages much of the Northwest’s energy transmission – opted instead to undertake a planning process to deal with what it calls “over-generation.”
The result is a protocol where, in times of high wind and high water, BPA shuts off wind turbines as a way to reduce surplus power on the region’s grid. By putting wind power on the chopping block, BPA is shielding dam energy at the expense of clean energy jobs.
BPA has now implemented this “over-generation” strategy and has begun shutting down wind power – a move that harms Northwest renewable energy development and the good jobs that go with it.
More info on wind energy and salmon recovery:
Wild salmon and wind power can work together - Seattle Times Op-ed, Pat Ford
BPA puts brakes on wind, blames salmon - Rhett Lawrence
Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) on BPA - Please Reconsider Proposed Wind Power Policy
On May 9, a coalition of conservation and fishing groups, clean energy advocates and businesses, along with the State of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe, returned to court for what is expected to be the last hearing on the Obama administration’s Columbia-Snake salmon and steelhead plan. In his opening remarks, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden stated plainly: “The job is not done.”
Judge Redden is expected to decide soon if the Obama administration’s plan passes legal muster — a decision that will determine the future of imperiled salmon and steelhead in the nation’s signature salmon watershed: the Columbia-Snake River Basin. The decision also has significant implications for the integrity of the Endangered Species Act.
As the introduction of the Salmon Solutions and Planning Act (H.R. 2111) indicates, members of Congress are ready to move forward. The studies called for in H.R. 2111 can provide Congress, the Obama administration, federal agencies, and stakeholders in the Northwest with the up-to-date information needed for charting the best course to recover wild salmon and steelhead, invest in local communities, and save taxpayer and energy ratepayer dollars.
Again, please urge your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 2111 here. Media Roundup:
1) Oregonian: Third plan for Columbia Basin dams and wild salmon may still have holes, Judge James A. Redden warns 2) OPB's Ecotrope: Plaintiff: BiOp still “mushy information without any standards” 3) Great Map from the Oregonian of Salmon and Steelhead in Obama’s Plan
4) Salmon Mean Business: Stories from Idaho Rivers United
This month, our partners at Idaho Rivers United (IRU) have launched an amazing new video series: “Salmon Stories.” In this series, 11 Idahoans discuss why salmon are important to their businesses, to Idaho’s ecology, and to the region’s cultural heritage.
Check it out the videos here on IRU’s website – just click on the featured cities to view.
From Lapwai to Boise and from Salmon to Riggins, the residents of Idaho want more wild salmon in the Salmon River and more red fish in Redfish Lake. “In this long-running regional discussion about recovering salmon and steelhead, there’s a tendency to focus on politics, legal benchmarks, and spreadsheets full of numbers. In some ways, that’s unfortunate,” said IRU Assistant Policy Director Greg Stahl.
“In Salmon Stories, we return to what salmon mean to everyday Idahoans. These are voices that too often seem suffocated by the government’s slick public relations machine. They are the voices of our neighbors and friends—people whose lives are impacted by the travesty of the status-quo approach to salmon recovery.”