Last week U.S. District Judge James Redden, once again, struck down the federal government's plan for saving salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers.
But even if the federal government were to make dramatic modifications to the plan -- including promises to dump millions and millions of dollars into fish survival -- it would not be good enough for Redden. Almost nothing the government could do would be good enough.
In a sternly worded ruling, Redden wrote that the government plan, known as a biological opinion, is too vague and uncertain on specific steps that will be taken in future years to improve salmon habitat, according to The Associated Press. Redden added that he doesn't think the government can meet the standards of the Endangered Species Act by habitat improvements alone, and it is time to consider other options, including removing some of the dams.
Ahhh, there it is -- breaching the Columbia and Snake river dams.
Redden has been running the federal government in circles for years searching for solutions when it is clear the only outcome on his agenda is dam removal.
That -- simply put -- is crazy.
Breaching the dams would be an economic disaster for the region and the nation.
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.
In the end, Congress will not allow dam breaching to occur now or in the future. Only someone on the fringe such as Redden would seriously consider changing the flow of the rivers, disrupting transportation and hurting agriculture (to name just a few of the negative impacts).
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, also sees Redden's judicial antics as obstructionism.
"Despite broad, collaborative agreement on a recovery plan and years of record, or near record, fish returns, the Pacific Northwest is entrapped in a never-ending circle of litigation and judicial whim," he said. "At some point, reason and common sense need to prevail over an activist judge who is intent on keeping dam removal on the table and keeping this issue tied up in the courtroom for years."
Nevertheless, Redden's ruling stands for now. Redden leaves the current plan in place through 2013, which is when federal agencies must develop another plan with more specific projects to help salmon through 2018.
What an incredible waste of time and taxpayer dollars.
The dams will not, and should not, be removed.
It is Redden who should be removed from this case so the task of putting a reasonable and effective salmon recovery plan can move forward.