B) September 15th Decision Approaches
(1) The new Administration could submit the 2008 Plan to the court with revisions in an attempt to satisfy the judge. Salmon and fishing advocates are highly skeptical that such a move would succeed. The judge, in his mid-May letter, identified a number of substantial improvements that would be needed in order for him to find the plan lawful under the Endangered Species Act, including a look at lower Snake River dam removal. The deficiencies of the current plan are so profound that a major overhaul would be needed. Modest tweaks will be inadequate.
(2) Time for a Collaborative Stakeholder Process? The Administration could, in recognition of the plan’s severe inadequacies, decide instead to change course and undertake an approach that many – including newspaper editorial boards, three former governors, a growing number of senators and representatives in Congress, businesses and organizations - are calling for. The Administration should convene an inclusive, settlement process (involving e.g. fishermen, farmers, utilities and energy consumers, tribes, states) to work together to craft a legal, science-guided salmon plan that both restores endangered salmon and steelhead and ensures that local, affected communities benefit at the same time.
Counsel to the President and his Administration keeps pouring in:
Just in the past several weeks, for example, President Obama and his salmon team have received lots of advice about what to do with the failed 2008 Plan that they inherited. Here are a series of links to review some this advice:
(1) Three former Northwest governors sent a letter to President Obama urging him to abandon a 2008 Bush administration biological opinion (BiOp) for the Columbia-Snake rivers, and pull stakeholders together to create a solutions settlement table. Read more on their letter to the President. (2) Nationally-recognized lawyer and natural resources law professor Charles Wilkinson advised President Obama that, after many years of federal failure, sleight of hand, declining salmon populations, he needed to get this important decision right, including removal of the four lower Snake River dams. (3) New York Times, Boston Globe, Buffalo News, and Eugene Register Guard Editorials in support of solutions and dam removal options:
Boston Globe Editorial - August 10th: Salmon: A dam shame
Buffalo Editorial - August 10th: Bust the dams, save the salmon