Column: Sen. Craig no friend to tribes, environment

'The federally funded Fish Passage Center quietly, credibly performed its vital task of counting declining salmon runs in the Columbia-Snake River system, until it stood as a potential obstacle to agencies and politicians running the river.

The Bonneville Power Administration, in 2005, mounted a sustained campaign to stop spring discharge of water over dam spillways -- nicknamed the "fish flush" -- to aid downstream migration of young salmon. The BPA wanted to generate kilowatts for sale to California.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, entered the picture. He inserted "report language" in a Senate energy appropriations bill, directing Bonneville to cut off money to the Fish Passage Center and transfer its functions.

The Fish Passage Center language, inserted by Craig, ultimately cost America's taxpayers a small bundle.

The Bonneville Power Administration gleefully issued a decision eliminating the passage center, and solicited bids for its replacement.

The Yakama Indian Nation and conservation groups went to court: A year after Congress passed Craig's language, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the plaintiffs and told Bonneville to junk its replacement process and put the Fish Passage Center back in business.

The price tag came to at least $1 million, and resulted in a year of confusion, delay and conflict."

Get the Story:
Joel Connelly: Sen. Craig no friend to 'greens' in NW (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 8/31)

Related Story:
GOP Officials Say Craig May Resign (AP 8/31)

Relevant Links:
Sen. Larry Craig -

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