The Unraveling of the Parity Promise: Hydropower, Salmon, and Endangered Species in the Columbia Basin

Contributor Roles

Andy Simrin, J.D. 1991, Lewis & Clark Law School.

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Environmental Law

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Env't L.


On the eve of what would become a series of listings of Columbia Basin salmon under the Endangered Species Act, Professor Blumm and Mr. Simrin analyze the evolution of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program program from the passage of the Northwest Power Act in 1980 through program amendments adopted in 1990. This review leads them to criticize the interstate agency responsible for the program, the Northwest Power Planning Council, for failing to defer to the biological judgment of the region's fish and wildlife agencies on the issue of fish flows in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The failure to secure adequate fish flows has imperiled the entirety of a program once heralded as the most ambitious biological restoration program in the world and has led to Endangered Species Act consideration for a number of Columbia Basin salmon runs. The authors make a number of suggestions about how to improve the program, including amendments to the Northwest Power Act that would help achieve the congressional directive of making fish and wildlife a "co-equal partner" with hydropower in the operation of the basin's dams. A postscript responds to Professor Lee's critique contained in the article following this one.

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