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NW Fishletter #372, August 7, 2017
 Legislation Proposed to Block Court Orders on BiOp and Spill
A bill introduced June 29 by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) would keep the current Federal Columbia River Power System BiOp until 2022.
The 2008-2014 biological opinion, or recovery plan, was due to expire at the end of year, but federal District Judge Michael Simon overturned the BiOp in May 2016 because, he said, it failed to protect Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead runs.
The judge gave the federal government an additional year--until Dec. 31, 2018--to replace the Endangered Species Act-required BiOp.
He also told federal action agencies--BPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and BuRec--to include the effects of removing some or all four lower Snake River dams in a new EIS.
McMorris Rodgers' legislation would prohibit "structural modification, action, study, or engineering plan that restricts electrical generation at any Federal Columbia River Power System hydroelectric dam, or that limits navigation on the Snake River" unless authorized by an act of Congress.
The bill was introduced by McMorris Rodgers and co-sponsored by Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Kurt Schrader, (D-Ore.).
If it became law, it would also stop additional spring spill starting in 2018 as the court ordered in March of this year.
The Northwest RiverPartners have denounced the federal court's 2016 and 2017 decisions as threatening the region's economy and power system and harming fish, while members and supporters of the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition applauded the orders as holding the best promise for rebuilding endangered salmon and steelhead populations. -Laura Berg
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