Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oregon Leaders Introduce Bill to Restore Columbia River

Today, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the “Columbia River Restoration Act,” legislation with an aim fund the clean-up and restoration of the mighty Columbia. The river is the largest in the Pacific Northwest and it's basin encompassing six Western States has been degraded by habitat loss and pollution.

From Congressman Blumenauer's website:
The Columbia River is in many ways the lifeblood of the Northwest,” said Merkley. “It has not only provided the Oregon fishing industry and tribes with salmon and steelhead for generations, but it has become a transportation artery for businesses, a hydropower generator for our economy, and the source of irrigation for our farmers. By restoring the Columbia River and reducing toxic contamination, we will create jobs, protect public health and contribute to a healthy economic future for those who depend on the river for their livelihood.”

The Columbia River Restoration Act would authorize EPA to work with The Lower Columbia River Partnership (LCREP), the States of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, Columbia Basin Tribal Governments, local governments, citizen groups, industry, and other federal agencies to develop and implement a strategy to increase monitoring and reduce pollution. This bill will create between 700 and 900 jobs a year in the region for biologists, construction workers, and others, while enabling the river to continue supporting jobs in the farming, hydropower, recreation and transportation industries. The legislation authorizes $40 million a year for this effort...

"We applaud Congressman Blumenauer and Senator Merkley for their leadership to protect clean water and public health. Introduction of this bill is an important step toward a healthier future for the all of the Columbia River and its communities,” said Brett Swift, Northwest Regional Director of American Rivers.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Feinstein's Overnight Rider

No, Hoff, thumbs WAY DOWN!

Okay, kitschy pictures aside - Feinstein is creating a nightmare scenario in the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. Read on.

Please ACT IMMEDIATELY to Help Stop Senator Feinstein's Attack on Salmon, Jobs & the Endangered Species Act!

In a very surprising and disappointing development, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has announced plans to introduce an amendment or "rider" that would eliminate Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections in the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.

She could introduce this "rider" this week! Please act immediately!

Feinstein's amendment would put salmon and many other endangered species at even greater risk of extinction than they are already, set a dangerous precedent for salmon and fishing jobs across the Pacific Coast - and for the ESA across the country.

CLICK ON THE LINK and urge Senators to publicly oppose and vote against this destructive amendment.

For Oregon folks:

Washington folks:


All others, contact Feinstein through her online form.


California's Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers (which drain into San Francisco Bay) are host to 4 separate populations of Chinook salmon -- two of which are endangered. The rivers is also home to an endangered steelhead population. The once-mighty Sacramento River Fall run Chinook salmon has supported commercial fishing throughout California and Oregon for many generations.

All of these populations have declined precipitously in recent years - despite the complete and unprecedented closure of California's commercial and sport salmon fishing seasons over the past two years -- a terrible price paid by fishing communities across the coast in order to save the fish upon which they rely.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin ecosystem is also home to two endangered smelt species, and one endangered sturgeon species. Populations of these and many other non-endangered species are in a state of freefall. Many respected scientists predict that the fall-run Chinook salmon population could soon be listed as an endangered species as well.

Right now, when salmon need MORE protections, California's Senior Senator Dianne Feinstein appears to be moving to eliminate protections for salmon and other species. In an effort to blame California's employment woes on environmental protections, Senator Feinstein prepared a rider (amendment) to attach to upcoming employment legislation that would suspend federal Endangered Species Act protections for wild salmon and steelhead for at least 2 years.

This suspension would be the death knell for California's once famous fishing fleet. Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations said, "salmon have been part of California for thousands of years and this report shows we're losing them. If we wipe our salmon out, we'll also be wiping out generations of fishing families from the central California coast to northern Oregon that have all relied on king salmon from the Sacramento River to make a living."

The suspension would also send an ominous message to all who work to protect a healthy environment so that it can provide food, jobs, and recreation for us all. If the Golden State is willing to write off its once-prized fishery (and numerous endangered species), it will mean a bleak future for all wild salmon and steelhead populations across our coast.

Those links again:

For Oregon folks:

Washington folks:


All others, contact Feinstein through her online form.


-Bobby Hayden and the Outreach Team at Save Our Wild Salmon

Friday, February 19, 2010

Feds' Last Shot at N.W. Salmon Recovery Plan?

After more than 15 years in court, federal agencies have continued to put politics before science, circumventing the Endangered Species Act and pushing Columbia-Snake River salmon to the brink of extinction and hurting salmon communities across the Pacific Coast. Judge James Redden in Portland, Ore. has given them one last chance to follow the science and the law.

Read more from the Public News Service:
A federal judge has given the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service until today to remand the updates it has made to its federal salmon management plan for the Columbia-Snake River Basin. Judge James Redden isn't convinced the changes are sufficient or legal and wants to see more work on the plan. Conservation groups have been critical of the plan for not doing enough to help fish populations recover, and this week, a group of independent scientists agreed.

Leanne Roulson, president of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society, which issued the report, says if fish numbers continue to decline, her group has determined the plan isn't aggressive enough to save them.

"We're all about preserving and conserving the fisheries resource, while the political aspects of it are not really relevant to the stances we take or the opinions we put out there."

The plan is called a Biological Opinion (BiOp) and it was originally submitted to the court by the Bush Administration. Rather than toss it out, the Obama team made some additions, known as an Adaptive Management Implementation Plan. But Ed Bowles, chief of fisheries for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, thinks neither team has gotten it right.

"The State of Oregon's concern is that, just including the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan into the BiOp does not even come close to fixing the fatal flaws of the BiOp."

Bowles says recent predictions of the biggest salmon runs in years are mostly hatchery fish, and the wild fish remain on the endangered list.

Judge Redden has said the feds need to follow procedures to comply with the Endangered Species Act, and to use what he calls the "best available science" in making any future changes. He has praised the effort NOAA is making, but says the latest changes could keep the salmon debate in court. He also suggests that the agency work more closely with the State of Oregon and fish conservation groups.
We hope that this time the federal agencies listen. Stay tuned...

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Biocidal Cold War Arrogance"

Excerpt from the Seattle Times interview with author David James Duncan...

Q: Talk about your efforts to remove dams from the Snake River.

A: The four lower Snake River dams are emblematic of a biocidal Cold War arrogance. They were commissioned by the 1955 Congress. They are eradicating wild salmon, salmon-dependent species, and salmon-celebrating cultural traditions from 5,500 miles of pristine Idaho, Oregon and Washington streams, from hard-strapped Pacific Coast towns, and from the troubled waters of Seattle's own Puget Sound. They are helping to drive your orcas to extinction.

Read more of the interview with Duncan in the Seattle Times.

Get tickets to the premiere of Duncan's The River Why by the Book-It Repertory Theatre
February 9 – March 7, 2010
Center House Theatre, Seattle Center, Seattle

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Affordable energy without the dams

Northwest Power and Conservation Council Analysis Finds Lower Snake River Dam Removal Will Have Little Effect on NW Ratepayers

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Northwest Power and Conservation Council yesterday released its 6th Power Plan, which charts the Northwest’s energy course for the next 20 years. The Council’s detailed analysis accompanying the plan shows that the Northwest can meet all new electricity needs over the next 20 years and remove the four lower Snake River dams with very little effect on Northwest ratepayers. In addition, the region can meet its energy needs with no net increase in greenhouse gas emission and no new fossil-burning power plants, but instead can meet these needs with energy efficiency and renewables.

Pat Ford, Executive Director of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, said:

“We would like to thank the Council for approving this plan. It proves that we can take bold actions to both save our wild salmon and chart a clean and affordable energy future. Our region is blessed with ample, affordable energy conservation and renewable energy resources to serve power needs and fulfill our climate responsibilities, while reviving our salmon economy and creating thousands of good local jobs along the way.

The Council’s analysis, among other things, lays to rest the misinformation that Northwest energy users will be economically devastated if the four lower Snake dams are removed to protect and restore salmon and salmon-based communities. The Bonneville Power Administration, for instance, has long stated that by removing these dams the Northwest would have to provide about 3000 MW of new gas or nuclear plants, causing a rate increase of 20% or more.

However, the Council’s analysis shows that the region would only need to build about 200 MWs of new gas plants and 145 MWs of additional conservation to replace the output of the dams. The impact on customers’ bills would be somewhere between 2-4% percent if spread throughout the region, refuting claims that dam removal would devastate ratepayers. Indeed, when taken together with the rate impacts of all the actions in the plan, customers' bills are actually expected to go DOWN over the next 20 years, regardless of lower Snake dam removal. This is because the Council’s plan relies on the cheapest way by far to meet our future electricity needs: energy efficiency measures that save customers both energy and money. The Council did not endorse dam removal in its plan, but we applaud it for including its best analysis of the energy and rate impacts of that action, should it be taken.

The Council’s findings mirror conclusions in the NW Energy Coalition’s Bright Future report released last year. That report shows that we can have both salmon in our rivers and a clean energy future, and the Council analysis released today supports that conclusion. Now is the time for Northwest leaders and the Obama Administration to boldly step forward without apology or excuse, and embrace both the salmon restoration and clean energy actions Northwest people and economies need. We can secure a clean energy future, we can remove the four lower Snake River dams, and we can all benefit by doing both.”

To view the Northwest Power Plan, go HERE