New federal salmon bill introduced

New federal salmon bill introduced

Taxpayer groups, fishermen, businesses, clean energy advocates and conservation organizations applaud bi-partisan legislation

WASHINGTON— Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), joined by 10 additional co-sponsors from across the nation, introduced the Salmon Solutions and Planning Act (H.R. 2111) in the House of Representatives on June 3. If passed, the bill would provide Congress and federal agencies with up-to-date, thorough information about how best to protect and restore wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake River Basin while also supporting local communities and saving taxpayer dollars.

Rep. McDermott called for an approach that puts all restoration options for Columbia and Snake River salmon on the table, including an analysis of lower Snake River dam removal. Rep. McDermott stated, “The time to act is now. Billions of public and private dollars have been spent on failed recovery projects that put politics over sound science.  Failing to act would further jeopardize our struggling salmon populations that provide thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefit for the nation.  We must work together to create an innovative restoration strategy that saves this national treasure.”

H.R. 2111’s main purpose is to chart an effective and efficient course to restore salmon based on the best available science. The bill calls for the protection and recovery of Columbia and Snake River salmon populations to self-sustaining and harvestable levels. It also aims to address the need for development of renewable energy and an improved freight transportation system.

“More salmon mean more jobs, for multiple industries, including both commercial and recreational fishing,” said Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA). “Tens of thousands of fishing jobs have been put in jeopardy by doing the wrong things over and over in the Columbia Basin. This bill would help everyone chart a science-based pathway out of two decades of Columbia River chaos and conflict.”

H.R. 2111’s introduction comes at a critical juncture for Columbia and Snake River salmon. The Obama Administration to date has echoed the previous administration’s failed salmon policies, and wild salmon numbers remain dangerously low, with most populations hovering at about 2% of historic levels.

Many in the Northwest, including former and current governors and senators, have called on the administration to convene a salmon solutions table that brings together key stakeholders to discuss all scientifically-credible options to help recover endangered salmon, and enhance the region’s economy while saving taxpayer dollars. The studies authorized in H.R. 2111 would provide information needed to make such stakeholder discussions even more successful.

“The current efforts have been extraordinarily expensive for the taxpayer and are still failing to turn around the populations of these wild salmon,” said Rep. Petri.  “Given the deficits our country is facing, it’s time to take a fresh look at which approaches will be both fiscally sustainable and will ensure that the wild salmon of this region are able to survive and thrive for future generations.”

The bill’s introduction occurs as parties await a court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Redden regarding the legality of the Obama administration’s salmon plan for the Columbia and Snake Rivers.