October 17th, 2009
Unlike as optimistically characterized by Steve Wright, administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, in his Oct. 10 guest viewpoint, “Right plan can save salmon and the hydroelectric dams,” the Northwest’s Columbia River salmon problems are far from over, and the battle to prevent their extinction is far from won.
On Sept. 14, the Obama administration delivered its own much anticipated salmon strategy for the Columbia and Snake rivers. Unfortunately, after a four-month review, Obama’s salmon team has merely adopted the previously rejected Bush administration salmon plan as its own, with only a few minor improvements.
Worst of all, the Bush-turned-Obama plan just embraces failed recovery goals of the past. Keeping expectations low, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco assures us the plan will “prevent further declines.” In other words, ratepayers and taxpayers all up and down the West Coast will remain on the hook for roughly $1 billion a year for at least the next 10 years to — at best — merely maintain Columbia Basin wild salmon at their already seriously imperiled levels.