Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ham and Swiss on Rye

Lunch time chat thread. Atrios back soon.

On second thought, you'd better have the salmon.

The NYT reports that:

The Bush administration on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of removing federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers to protect 11 endangered species of salmon and steelhead, even as a last resort.

In an opinion issued by the fisheries division of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the government declared that the eight large dams on the lower stretch of the two rivers are an immutable part of the salmon's environment.
Endangered fish, the opinion said, can be protected by a variety of measures, including carrying fish around dams and building weirs - a new type of weir that works like a water slide - to ease young fishes' journey through dams as they swim downstream to the ocean. The total cost of the 10-year effort was projected at $6 billion. Assuming annual expenditures of $600 million, this represents a slight increase over existing spending for this purpose.

"It is clear that each of the dams already exists, and their existence is beyond the present discretion" of federal agencies to reverse, the opinion said.
The decision is a departure from the Clinton administration's approach to salmon protection. In 2000, it adopted a policy that allowed for dam removal, although only if all other measures had failed.

The Bush administration opinion, first released in draft form in September, provoked immediate outrage on the part of environmentalists and some tribal groups, who see it as another in a series of federal actions weakening protection for the salmon that are an integral part of the regional identity of the Northwest, and whose numbers have been sharply reduced over the decades by overfishing, dam construction, industrial pollution and suburban sprawl.

Earlier this year the fisheries division proposed including fish bred in hatcheries along with their wild cousins when calculating whether a salmon species is still endangered.

Environmentalists say the administration is retreating from the goal of recovering salmon to robust populations, settling for the status quo.
A spokesman for the fisheries division disagreed, saying the actions the agencies were taking or planned to take would be sufficient to protect the salmon. In a conference call Tuesday afternoon, officials of the fisheries service and the other agencies involved pointed out that they had drafted a letter addressed to the citizens of the Northwest with the assurance that "this approach does not represent a reduction in our commitment to salmon recovery."


bebe rebozo and Konopelli can have their salmon with Dole pineapple, if desired. Get it while it lasts.