Monday, August 23, 2010

Stacking the Deck: Senators Murray and Cantwell limit dialogue in Columbia-Snake salmon recovery

According to documents surfacing from several Freedom of Information Act requests, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have been working behind the scenes to limit communication between Obama administration officials - NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco among them - and leaders within the Northwest salmon community.  The senators appear to be stacking the political deck against real dialogue about long-term solutions to recover Columbia and Snake River salmon to abundance and meet the needs of our Northwest communities. 

These findings and more can be found in a great op-ed from author Steven Hawley, published in the Oregonian on August 21st.  Read Hawley's op-ed here.

Many in Washington will remember that former Governor Gary Locke is now head honcho at the Commerce Department, which overseas the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency that crafts the salmon and steelhead plan for the Columbia-Snake Basin.  Senators Murray and Cantwell appear to have been in close contact with both Secretary Locke and Dr. Lubchenco through the course of the Obama administration's review of the Bush-era salmon policies (as you will recall - they eventually decide to stick with the Bush plan). 

While we have yet to hear from Senators Murray and Cantwell about these specific issues uncovered by Mr. Hawley, this is not the type of leadersip we expect or need from our elected officials.  A commitment to science, transparency in decision-making, and substantive public involvement focused on solutions is what the Northwest needs to solve these types of challenging natural resource issues.

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