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Latest CBB News > Chapter VI

EXCERPT: Chapter VI

Salmon and Hydro: An Account of Litigation over Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinions for Salmon and Steelhead, 1991-2009

VI. 2008-2009: A ‘Collaborative’ BiOp; New Fish Funding Agreements, New BiOp Support; Montana Finally Likes The Reservoir Plan; Earthjustice Says New Approach Inadequate; Oregon Left As Only State Opposed To BiOp; Should Independent Scientists Evaluate BiOp?; Parties To Litigation Grows; Clean Water Act Now An Issue; A New Round Of Briefings

. . .The agreements - called the Columbia Basin Fish Accords - changed the legal dynamics considerably. The Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama tribes had been severely critical of past biological opinions and in the past added their voices to the chorus demanding lower Snake River dam removals.

The MOAs were expected to "augment and advance the FCRPS RPA and its implementation. These actions inform and buttress the conclusions NOAA reaches for the FCRPS Biological Opinion," the 2008 FCRPS BiOp summary says.

The accords said the involved parties agreed that the federal government's requirements under the ESA, the Clean Water Act and the Northwest Power Act were satisfied for 10 years and that they would work together to support these agreements in all venues. Negotiations leading to the agreement were kindled during the 2004 BiOp remand collaboration.

"These accords move the focus away from gavel-to-gavel management and toward gravel-to-gravel management," said Steve Wright, BPA administrator. "By putting litigation behind us and putting actions to help fish in front of us, we will better ensure that Columbia Basin fish will benefit."

"These fish accords respect the sovereignty of the tribes. They break from the history of federal agencies developing a plan themselves, and then telling the tribes what they would or could provide for salmon. This did not work. Misunderstandings, hard feelings, and litigation are what we produced," said Ron Suppah, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon. "The foundation of these accords is respect among sovereigns - respect for the expertise and authority of the tribes."

The agreements were harshly criticized by the state of Oregon and by the fishing and conservation groups that had successfully challenged the 2004 BiOp. They said "the MOA cannot shield the federal government's legal liabilities under the ESA…." . . . .

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INTRODUCTION

I. 1991-1995: Three ESA Listings, Four Biological Opinions, Five Court Challenges

II. 1995-1998: Reasonable And Prudent Alternatives, Spread The Risk, Long-Term Configuration, Adaptive Management; River Governance; Regional Parties Stake Their Positions; A BiOp Finally Passes Legal Muster

III. 1998-1999: More ESA Listings; A Supplemental Steelhead BiOp Guiding River Operations; Independent Science Advisory Board Weighs In On Smolt Transportation; Appeals Court Upholds 1995 BiOp; Supplemental BiOps On New Listings, Snake Water

IV. 1999-2004: Not Just Hydro, But All The ‘Hs’; Recovery In 48 years?; Mitigation Must Be Certain To Occur; Another BiOp Bites The Dust; A Remand; Corps Rules On Snake River Dam Removal

V. 2004-2008: A New BiOp Says No Jeopardy From Hydro Operations; A New ‘Environmental Baseline’; Redden Says No Again; Discretionary Actions vs. Non-Discretionary (Dams’ Existence); Court Runs The River; Upper Snake River Gets Own BiOp

VI. 2008-2009: A ‘Collaborative’ BiOp; New Fish Funding Agreements, New BiOp Support; Montana Finally Likes The Reservoir Plan; Earthjustice Says New Approach Inadequate; Oregon Left As Only State Opposed To BiOp; Should Independent Scientists Evaluate BiOp?; Parties To Litigation Grows; Clean Water Act Now An Issue; A New Round Of Briefings

VII. Conclusion: Rushing To Redden’s Finish Line

 


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