In a long-awaited opinion, a federal judge rejects, for the third time, the federal government’s plan for protecting Columbia Basin salmon.
Federal Judge James Redden has once again rejected the federal plan to protect wild salmon from dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. According to the Portland Oregonian’s Scott Learn, the judge’s ruling will allow the current plan to remain in effect through 2013, but require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service to submit a new plan, called a biological opinion, no later than January 1, 2014.
This is the third time, under three different Presidents, that Judge Redden has rejected federal plans for protecting Columbia Basin salmon. Critics have long contended that the plans were inadequate on their face, primarily because they don’t fully account for the harm inflicted on the migrating fish by dams such as those on the lower Snake River.
Whereas Judge Redden used strong words such as “arbitrary and capricious” to criticize the government’s work thus far, his ruling yesterday was denounced by dam proponents such as Washington Congressman Doc Hastings who released a statement criticizing the judge for “extremely alarming and unacceptable statements” that “explicitly ordered federal agencies to consider dam removal.”
According to the Oregonian, Redden’s decision sends the voluminous biological opinion back to the Fisheries Service with instructions to focus on habitat improvements for salmon for the years 2014 to 2018.