Nearing critical decision point on latest salmon plan

By Roger Meader, general manager, Coos-Curry Electric Co-Operative, Port Orford April 30, 2011 04:00 am

Federal Judge Redden should approve salmon plan: time to get salmon out of the courtroom

We are nearing a critical decision point on the latest salmon plan for the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS). This plan, the 2010 Supplemental Biological Opinion (BiOp), is designed to provide strong protection for salmon and steelhead affected by the FCRPS. Coming up on May 9, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden will hear oral arguments, which ought to be the final hearing in this case.

The region has spent more than a decade in court and now it’s time for Judge Redden to approve this plan and allow salmon managers to begin implementing it. In this BiOp, the region has a salmon plan that is more comprehensive than any before it. The plan is the product of an unprecedented collaboration of federal agencies, the states of Montana, Washington and Idaho and the sovereign tribes of the Colville, Shoshone-Bannock, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Yakima. It is based on the best available science and has been reviewed and approved by an independent panel of scientists. Two Presidential Administrations have also approved it, including current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration director, Dr. Jane Lubchenco – a well-known and respected marine ecologist and environmental scientist. And, the plan is supported by a 10-year funding agreement of over $1 billion dollars. Additionally, the plan incorporates adaptive management of the hydrosystem that allows new scientific information to be applied as it becomes available.

Why is this important to our community? The dams at issue in this salmon plan provide our community with clean, renewable hydroelectric power. In addition, these dams offer residents of the Northwest multiple benefits including a valuable transportation system and irrigation source. The bulk of the salmon plan being litigated in Judge Redden’s court will be paid for by people like you: consumer-owned utility customers that buy power generated by the Federal Columbia River Power System and marketed through the Bonneville Power Administration. That’s where we get the vast majority of the wholesale power we purchase on your behalf. Continued litigation only increases the cost of this plan to electric consumers like you and me; and only delays implementation of the plan’s measures that are beneficial to salmon.