GORE SAYS SALMON MUST SURVIVE
truffler1635 at my-deja.com
truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Sat Jun 3 10:58:42 EST 2000
The following article is from The Oregonian, May 13, 2000, p A1
GORE SAYS SALMON MUST SURVIVE
The vice president addresses the issue on a visit to Portland and
criticizes George W. Bush's defense of dams
By JEFF MAPES, The Oregonian
Vice President Al Gore pledged Friday in Portland to work for "quick
resolution" on a plan to restore endangered Columbia River salmon runs,
but he avoided saying whether four Northwest dams should be breached.
Declaring that "extinction here is not an option," Democrat Gore
also criticized his Republican rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, for
ruling out destruction of the dams as a way to help salmon passage along
the Columbia-Snake river system.
"Unfortunately, Gov. George W. Bush has prejudged the outcome," Gore
said in a carefully written statement delivered at the start of a
campaign appearance at Portland Community College.
"I feel that it is irresponsible to reach a decision or draw a
conclusion without consulting all of the parties involved and without
utilizing hard science. I pledge to work for a quick resolution that
will involve all of the affected parties based on hard science, and I
refuse to prejudge or play politics with this issue.
"We can develop a plan that can both protect the river and restore
the salmon runs."
Gore's statement appeared designed to staunch criticism from even
political allies - including Gov. John Kitzhaber - that he had been
ducking an issue crucial to the economic and environmental future of the
Northwest. And it comes just days ahead of Tuesday's primary election,
although both he and Bush are expected to win easily.
Kitzhaber said Gore's statements satisfied his concerns and that he
was now convinced the administration would move ahead on a strategy for
restoring salmon runs. The National Marine Fisheries Service is supposed
to deliver within the next few weeks a draft biological opinion aimed at
guiding salmon recovery in the river system.
Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., who is Oregon's chairman of the Bush
campaign, called Gore's statement "just another political dodge" and
said he is convinced that Gore is quietly supporting efforts by the
Clinton administration to move toward breaching the four dams on the
lower Snake River.
"You can understand why Al Gore has a problem with credibility when
he is saying one thing and his administration is doing another," added
Dan Bartlett, a Bush campaign spokesman.
At this point, it's not clear where the Clinton administration is
heading on this issue. Smith says the administration's desire to take
out the dams is clear from news reports stating that the White House has
blocked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from formally recommending that
the Snake River dams remain in place.
But environmental groups say they're worried about other reports
that the fisheries service is preparing to announce that the dams should
remain in place for five to 10 years while other salmon-recovery efforts
Pat Ford of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition said his chief
concern now is that the administration make a decision on the dams in
July - when the fisheries service is scheduled to settle on a final
biological opinion - rather than delaying for several years.
At this point, Ford said, Gore "is keeping his options open, and for
our part, we have no problem with that if he asserts leadership in
Gore didn't get into any such specifics in his salmon statement, but
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the vice president promised him in a
private meeting that he would consult with him and Kitzhaber after the
draft fisheries service opinion is released.
"I think what he wants to do...is to be part of an effort with the
governor and I to bring these (federal) agencies together," Wyden said.
At(sic) late as Thursday afternoon, a Gore campaign aide said the
vice president didn't plan to talk about salmon during his quick visit
to Portland, which was designed to focus on Social Security. The issue
is politically tricky for Gore because he has influential supporters on
both sides of dam-breaching. Several environmental groups have launched
a national campaign to take out the dams, and many labor unions have
strongly opposed the idea.
But by the time Gore met separately in private with Kitzhaber and
with Wyden the vice president had decided to deliver a quick statement
on the salmon on what was his first presidential campaign visit to
Oregon. Gore, who holds only infrequent news conferences on the campaign
trail, provided no opportunity for reporters to question him about his
Although Gore didn't mention the dams, he is clearly at odds with
Bush, who last summer adopted the view of Smith and other influential
opponents of dam-breaching: that it woiuld endanger the region's
economy. They claim the loss of the dams would cause unacceptable
reductions in hydro-power, irrigation and the ability to barge wheat
down the river system.
"Everybody has to understand there has to be some modifications to
ease the passage of fish, but we think that can be done without
breaching the dams," said Bartlett, the Bush spokesman.
Kitzhaber, the only top elected official in the region to support
dam-breaching, has joined with environmental groups that say it should
be a key component of salmon-recovery efforts. They say the economic
impacts can be mitigated by federal aid.
"He's clearly committed himself to an effort to restore the
ecosystem," Kitzhaber said, adding that Gore "will be a leader on
environmental issues, but he will do it in a way that protects the
Jeff Hammerlund, a Portland State University professor and expert on
Northwest energy policy, said he has informally advised the Gore
campaign on the salmon issue and talked briefly with Gore about the
issue after the vice president's appearance.
He said it would have been inappropriate for Gore to take a stand on
the dams before the federal agencies had finished their review. "The
process has been established, and it's the Clinton administration's
process," Hammerlund said. "Sometimes leadershyip means waiting to see
that process through to completion."
COMMENT BY POSTER: While I am a Democrat, this seems to be more a knee-
jerk reaction than substantive. OTOH, Dubyuh has already stated he is
against dam removal, and does not appear phased by salmon extinction.
(Economy uber alles. Et tu, Brute?)
Both views may be muted by a third side, not readily accounted for in
the press. Native American treaties, preceded by any dam construction,
allow for fishing rights to continue ad infinitum. Salmon extinction
could cause a Supreme Court case over reparation to tribes, which might
well be several billion dollars - per year.
Demonstrably the salmon runs has decreased since dam construction, often
because no spillways were constructed to allow fish to pass upstream to
spawn. Native Americans for the most part had nothing to do with those
Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
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