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NW Fishletter #359, July 5, 2016

[11] Judge Discards Motion On Alleged Factual Errors In BiOp Opinion

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon has denied a motion by Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association (CSRIA) to correct factual errors in his May 4 opinion on the 2014 BiOp and the Federal Columbia River Power System.

In its motion, CSRIA contended the court was wrong when it stated that the federal government had not studied breaching, bypassing or removing one or more of the four lower Snake River dams.

The court, in rejecting the 2014 BiOp, said a comprehensive study that met the standards of the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) had not been conducted.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepared environmental impact statements in 1992 and 2002 that included the breaching option, CSRIA contended.

In his June 9 denial, Simon wrote that even the Corps said in the 1992 study that that "little or no evaluation has been conducted" on dam removal and that such a measure would require "a relatively long time to study."

The Corps' 2002 EIS was "one of the documents that . . . was both outdated and too narrowly-focused to suffice to meet the Corps' NEPA obligations," the June 9 ruling said.

The court said a 2010 Corps plan on how to study dam breaching--should it become necessary--further demonstrated a proper analysis had not yet been completed.

The judge did correct the court's misidentification of CSRIA as an amicus party to the litigation rather than a defendant-intervenor. -L. B.

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