LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Dam breaching won't happen

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On March 31, the U-B and U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had released a plan of study for breaching the lower Snake River dams.

This is intended to mollify the plaintiffs and Judge James Redden and put an end to the frivolous lawsuits they have perpetuated for over a decade.

Will this mean the dams will be breached? No!

It is a plan of study, not a law. Hastings made it clear in his newsletter that the dams can only be breached if Congress passes a law making it legal for them to be breached.

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott has been trying to get such a law passed since 2002. At first, 76 representatives supported his bill. As the lawsuit has dragged on and the Corps and Bonneville Power Administration have gathered more science and fixed more problems for the fish, McDermott's support has dwindled to 22 representatives in his last attempt to pass the bill.

Hastings is adamantly opposed and he is the ranking minority member of the House of Representatives committee that would decide whether a bill would go to a vote. It is very unlikely it ever would.

Then it would have to be passed by the Senate. If it ever passed, would breaching the dams be funded? Probably not.

The Corps studied this issue for about five years at a cost of over $30 million and recommended in its 2002 report that improving fish survival was the best option.

Its new plan is expected to cost another $19.8 million and will take over two years to complete. Improved fish survival and recent outstanding fish runs should make dam breaching even less likely.

What is it about "no!" that the environmental zealots and Judge Redden don't understand?

Let's quit wasting taxpayers' money on frivolous lawsuits and use it for something more productive than lining lawyers' pockets.

John McKern
Walla Walla

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