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From the January Issue of EatFirst - www.eatfirst.org

 

More salmon apparently not what they wanted

      Itís never enough!  No matter how much things improve - safer, cleaner, greener, or whatever it is someone wants Ė the Greens will never be satisfied.  The salmon fiasco proves once again the Green War is not about saving anything.  Itís about money, jobs and power. 

      More than 920,000 chinook passed Bonneville Dam counters this year, the biggest return since the dam was completed in 1938 and more than double the recent ten year average of 399,000.  Other species were also above average:  364,000 steelhead, 126,000 coho and 39,000 sockeye.  The figures were released in December by the Federal Caucus, the nine federal agencies working on salmon recovery in the Columbia River Basin.

      All these agencies admit that the dramatic increase is mainly due to ocean conditions.  In the past few years, colder water, more food, and fewer predators have allowed more fish to survive in the ocean.  Oops!  Apparently that solution was not the one they were looking for. 

      Many Ďsalmon saversí from these same public-trough agencies are now saying that the numbers donít mean fish are recovering.  Come again?  If fish numbers donít mean anything, what does?  What are we looking for?  When do we arrive at the point where the $almon spigot can be turned off?

      Last year the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, tallied up $3.3 billion in direct federal spending on Columbia Basin Salmon since 1982.  But, that figure is so far wide of the mark itís laughable.  Thatís just federal tax money.  It doesnít include Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) costs, nor costs incurred by non-federal dams, nor money spent by states, nor private money spent defending property rights and the related loss of business, goods and service.  BPA noted that the report didnít even consider the costs of purchasing power to replace power not generated because water was flushed down spillways instead of run thru generators.  These costs are borne directly by Northwest ratepayers in higher electric bills.  BPA estimates that from 1978-2001 their electric losses from spill were $3.44 billion.  Plus, they estimate they have spent another $2.6 billion on fish and wildlife (70% of which went for salmon).  When all these costs are added up salmon costs are nearing $10 billion.  To put that number in perspective, it is approximately $1600 for every man, woman and child in this state. 

      And, according to the GAO report, no one, absolutely no one, can say whether all that money did any good.  It might have helped, but then again it might not. 

      But, since fish numbers arenít important, it really doesnít matter anyway.  What matters is to keep the public trough full.  Over 20 years a whole new industry has arisen.  Careers were built, green group budgets were enriched, tribal fish programs mushroomed.  Salmon saving is now an institution, much the same as hundreds of other social welfare programs.  The Ďsaversí suck at the public trough alongside the welfare moms, the indigent and the Ďemployment challengedí.  And, they will continue to feed as long as we continue to fill the trough.

 




 

 

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