Zeroing Out the Messenger
Idaho Senator Eliminates Funds for Center on Salmon Survival
PORTLAND, Ore. -- In a surgical strike from Capitol Hill, Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) has eliminated a little-known agency that counts [endangered salmon as they negotiate federal dams in the Columbia and Snake rivers].
The Fish Passage Center, with just 12 employees and a budget of $1.3 million, has been killed because it did not count fish in a way that suited Craig.
"Data cloaked in advocacy create confusion," Craig said on the Senate floor this month, after successfully inserting language in an energy and water appropriations bill that bans all future funding for the Fish Passage Center. "False science leads people to false choices."
That's right, counting is "false science."
The Fish Passage Center has documented, in excruciating statistical detail, how the Columbia-Snake hydroelectric system kills salmon. Its analyses of fish survival data also suggest that one way to increase salmon survival is to spill more water over dams, rather than feed it through electrical turbines.
This suggestion, though, is anathema to utilities -- and to Craig -- because water poured over dams means millions of dollars in lost electricity generation.
Last summer, a federal judge in Portland, using data and analysis from the Fish Passage Center, infuriated the utilities. He ordered that water be spilled over federal dams in the Snake River to increase salmon survival. Shortly after Judge James A. Redden issued his order, Craig began pushing to cut all funding for the Fish Passage Center.
"Idaho's water should not be flushed away on experimental policies based on cloudy, inexact assumption," Craig said in a news release.
Yup, allowing river water to flow down it's natural course is "experimental" and "flushing it away."
Screw Craig's utility buddies—it's not their water. Hell, they're not even their dams, they are the federal gov't's! This isn't about "environmentalist wackos" keeping needed dam projects bottled up. It's not even like the utilities are being forced to build fish ladders or something (I can only assume the gov't did that for them already), this is merely releasing more water through the dam. I'd actually like to see the science that demonstrates how that costs anybody money...
Aside from the environmental/good steward of the rivers motive, which should be enough, salmon are also a major economic force. This kind of crap is so fucking short-sighted and one-dimensional. Some goddamn utility's quarterly earnings may doom an endagered species of incredible natural and economic value.
This motherfucker should be drenched in gravy and sent out to explain his "sound science" to the grizzlies upstream. Asshole.
* That's right, Republicans. It just seems that all the stories like this, are about Republicans. If somebody has a comparable Democrat example, I'll be happy to be outraged by that.
[h/t Kevin Drum]