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 Water & Power Subcommittee to Hold
Field Hearing on ESA, Snake River Dams

Balancing Economy and Environment, "Working River" at Stake

WASHINGTON, DC - The Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a field hearing to discuss the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and a recent federal court decision on salmon in the Columbia/Snake River system.

The hearing is scheduled for Mon., June 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the Quality Inn and Suites Conference Center, 700 Port Drive, Clarkston, WA.

"Jobs, families and important hydropower resources for our country are being systematically sacrificed at the hands of wealthy environmental group lawyers using the ESA as their cash cow," said subcommittee Chairman George Radanovich (R-CA). "Like clockwork in the Central Valley of California and now on Snake River, lawsuit abuse threatens to empower a federal judge to manage water flows and throw dam breaching back on the table to cause even further imbalance for our economy and our ecosystems. As we found in the Klamath basin, destroying a hard-working community is not the answer to resolving ESA issues. We must fight to protect our economy, our families and our natural resources. Science and expertise should determine our course, not litigation."

The Columbia/Snake River system serves as the vital economic, cultural and environmental backbone of the Pacific Northwest. As envisioned under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and subsequent Presidential Administrations in the 1960s and 1970s, this unique system provides electricity and irrigation and serves as a vital navigational link for agriculural and timber exports through inland ports like Clarkston, WA and Lewiston, ID.

The region struggles with restoring endangered species and protecting economic livelihoods. For years, the environmental community has rallied around breaching four Snake River Dams in an effort to restore salmon fisheries. Removal of these dams on the Snake River would place a heavy economic burden on the electricity ratepayers and grain farmers in the region.

"Our Northwest river systems are a critical part of our region's economy and important for transportation, irrigation and recreation," said Congresswoman McMorris (R-WA), who represents the Clarkston, WA region. "Monday's hearing will enable us to hear, first hand, how best to balance protecting endangered species while preserving our way of life."

This hearing will provide an opportunity to explore how species may be conserved while ensuring economic stability. The recovery efforts put forth by the federal government have been met with lawsuits over the past decade and Federal District Court Judge James Redden recently struck down the latest salmon recovery plan. He will hold a hearing June 10 to discuss alternative ways to protect salmon. The environmental community has used this latest decision as a rallying cry to remove the Snake River Dams.

"This hearing is a welcome opportunity for the folks whose lives and livelihoods are most influenced by the river systems to have their voices heard," said Congressman Otter (R-ID). "I'm grateful to Chairman Radanovich for coming to the region, and for recognizing that the Columbia and Snake are working rivers that require reasonable, balanced management. The recent federal court ruling that invalidated NOAA Fisheries' November 2004 biological opinion threatens this Administration's consistent commitment to balancing salmon recovery with the economic vitality of the Pacific Northwest. I'm hopeful that this hearing will put the court's ruling, as well as such critical issues as meeting the needs of power generation, population growth, irrigation and transportation, in context for the people of our region."

"Those who call the Pacific Northwest home know we can have both fish recovery and clean, low-cost hydropower - we understand this is not an either-or-situation," said Congressman Doc Hastings, who represents Central Washington. "Local residents deserve a meaningful role in how our resources are managed and this hearing will help provide that opportunity."

At the beginning of the 109th Congress, Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) and the Resources Committee announced a renewed effort to improve and update the Endangered Species Act. This hearing is one in a series to be held throughout the year around the country.

For more information on the Water and Power Subcommittee, please visit:

http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/subcommittees/wp.htm

 

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