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http://www.union-bulletin.com:80/articles/2007/04/15/opinion/daily_editorial/edit.txt

Court's ruling on salmon plan threatens dams _ as well as common sense
The fact is that nobody knows for certain how to fully restore the salmon runs. Any plan will involve trial and error, which means it is prudent to consider the impact the plan will have on society.

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial  April 14, 2007

A few years back the cry to breach the four Snake River dams was loud.

But in recent years common sense drowned out the cries. It became clear that taking down the dams on the Snake - or the Columbia - would have a devastating impact on the Pacific Northwest. It would put the Northwest's economy - literally - under water.

And dam breaching would not necessarily ensure the survival of salmon.

Given that, other ways to enhance the salmon population have wisely been pursued.

And the salmon population has been on the rise. A variety of factors, including the weather, have played a role.

Yet, some are still itching to bring down the dams. Unfortunately, their cause got a boost last week when 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's order requiring dams sacrifice power production to help juvenile salmon migration to the ocean. The judge, James Redden, has ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spill more water over the dams. The Associated Press reported that this keeps open the possibility that Redden could order the Snake River dams breached. Redden said he would do just that.

Redden, and the 9th Circuit Court, have gone too far. It is not for the courts to mandate solutions or set policy. The Bush administration and Congress should be establishing the plan.

Redden and the 9th Circuit, however, maintain that satisfying the requirements of the Endangered Species Act are a ``first priority'' over other laws.

That's nonsense.

The fact is that nobody knows for certain how to fully restore the salmon runs. Any plan will involve trial and error, which means it is prudent to consider the impact the plan will have on society, not just salmon.

In 2001 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a study on breaching the Snake River dams. It considered a variety of factors and concluded that dam breaching would do more harm than good. The Corps said dam breaching would increase the chances of salmon restoration only slightly - if at all - while taking a huge toll on the economy of the region.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit upholding Redden's effort to legislate from the bench should be appealed so a common-sense approach to saving salmon can be put in place.

 

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