Letters To The Editor - Judge Redden's replacement can't be worse

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What a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were out of town through Sunday, and upon returning, my attention was drawn to the U-B's Thanksgiving edition. Specifically, I read a short front-page article announcing that Judge James Redden was withdrawing from the breach-the-dams lawsuit.

The article said the plaintiffs were optimistic the new judge would carry on their fight, and NOAA Fisheries officials were confident they could work with Judge Redden's replacement.

I believe this is wonderful news for the people of the Northwest. It should stop the waste of money on this frivolous lawsuit, on wasted energy production, and will result in increased fish survival. I doubt there is a federal judge who would pay less attention to the science of salmon survival in the Columbia Basin. Whoever replaces Judge Redden will give credence to the contention of NOAA Fisheries and the federal dam operators that they are using the best available science.

I have said many times in this forum that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration fund a multitude of studies by an army of scientists to gather the best available science upon which to base their decisions on how to protect salmon and provide the human benefits provided by the dams.

My contention is punctuated by the fact that this week the Corps is holding its Anadromous Fish Evaluation Program science review at Whitman College. The AFEP, and research funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, are where the best available science comes from. Results of over 50 studies conducted by hundreds of agency, university and consulting scientists will be reported. That is just this year's work. The Corps has been funding this program every year since the 1950s. Thousands of studies have been done.

If you think I use "best available science" too often, using best available science is the yardstick by which federal agencies' compliance with laws like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act is measured.

Judge Redden apparently did not know that. Hopefully, his replacement will.

John McKern
Walla Walla

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