4 Jun 2010, 10:04am
BPA Dams Judicial incompetence
by admin

Another Bubbleheaded Salmon Lawsuit

The usual suspects have filed another lawsuit to force water spillage over the dams of the State of Washington. The ostensible purpose is to “save salmon” but in fact water spillage kills salmon smolts. The practical result, if the lawsuit is successful, will be to reduce renewable energy production, increase electricity rates, and kill fingerling salmon on their way to the ocean.

Groups sue for more water over dams for salmon

By PHUONG LE, Seattle PI, June 3, 2010 [here]

SEATTLE — Conservation and fishermen’s groups sued the state Department of Ecology on Thursday to get more water to spill over dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, protecting salmon and steelhead.

The groups want the state to change its water quality standards so more water can be spilled over federal dams. They say releasing more water over the dams - rather than running it through turbines - improves salmon’s chances of surviving their migration.

Earthjustice filed the lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court on behalf of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the Institute for Fisheries Resources and Idaho Rivers United.

“We think this standard is badly needed to help imperiled salmon and steelhead, and we want Washington to do the right thing,” said Amanda Goodin, an Earthjustice attorney.

Ecology denied the groups’ latest petition in May, citing concerns about possible harm to other aquatic life. The state said at the time that the change may provide a small benefit to salmon but may also harm other animals.

In response to Thursday’s lawsuit, Ecology said it follows federal clean water rules and noted that it already allows more water to spill over dams in certain situations.

“Ecology does not believe the overall benefits of additional spill versus detrimental effects to aquatic life is clear or sufficient to justify a rule revision of the water quality standards,” the agency said in a statement.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration control the level of spill at federal dams along the Snake and Columbia Rivers, but they must also meet state water quality standards, according to the lawsuit.

The dispute here involves limits on dissolved gases. Water spill can cause high levels of gases in the river. … [more]

Water spillage means water to the hydroelectric turbines will be shot off and the downstream flow forced over the tops of the dams. That increases the air in the water (dissolved gas supersaturation) below the dams and causes “gas-bubble disease” in the salmon smolts (those that survive the fall). Spill mortality is at least twice the mortality of smolts that pass through turbines. Furthermore, the dams now have smolt diversion systems that direct the smolts away from the turbines and into bypass spillways.

This issue is old. Spillage was first proposed in the early 1990’s and has been proven to kill smolts at high rates. Spillage is expensive, too. The water that does not go through turbines does not produce electricity.

Moreover, returns of adult salmon are achieving record rates due to the cool ocean conditions (caused by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation) [here].

The usual sue-happy groups do not actually represent fishermen or their interests. Their agenda is to destroy the economy of the Pacific Northwest for the usual Marxist revolutionary reasons. The bubbleheads also hope to garner $millions in free handouts from the Federal Government in the form of Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) funds.

As so it goes. The anarchists use the Justice System to monkeywrench the entire region, cut off renewable energy, kill baby salmon, and line their pockets from the Federal Treasury. Congress sits there dumbfounded, or worse, fully complicit in the anarchists’ strategy.

In the end it’s the public that’s bubbleheaded for allowing these destructive actions to continue.

12 Feb 2009, 7:12pm
Dams Judicial incompetence Salmon science
by admin
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How Government Destroyed Science in Columbia River Dam Decisionmaking

News from the Front #95

Remarks at the First Annual Northwest Water Law Symposium, Lewis & Clark Law School, January 31, 2009 (edited)

By James Buchal, author The Great Salmon Hoax [here]

Before I begin discussing the use of science in Columbia River decisionmaking, I think it is important to have a definition of what science is, and I am going to choose a definition that will make it clear that science is not really used at all any more.

What is science? Since this is a law school, I will cite the Supreme Court’s Daubert case, which determined how federal courts should decide whether to accept scientific expert testimony. In that case, the Court actually managed at one point to stumble right on it:

Scientific methodology today is based on generating hypotheses and testing them to see if they can be falsified; indeed, this methodology is what distinguishes science from other fields of human inquiry.

I will argue that the essence of science is that there are things that are out there that are true, and while we can all speculate about the truth is, we can test our speculation against the truth. This is usually done by taking measurements in an experiment. And when our hypothesis is falsified, that is, contrary to the truth as revealed by the evidence we gather, we have to discard or refine that hypothesis.

I would also argue that measurement or quantification is another very important aspect of science. As a famous physicist, Lord Kelvin once observed,

When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind: it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science.

What Lord Kelvin did not say is that if you really have a scientific understanding of something, you can also use that scientific knowledge to predict what will happen under a certain set of initial conditions (at least outside the quantum context).

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16 Jun 2008, 1:51pm
Judicial incompetence
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Federal Courts Ensure Junk Science Governs Salmon Harvest Decisions

News from the Front #94:

By James Buchal, author The Great Salmon Hoax [here]

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. John 3:20.

Sportfishing interests, more precisely the Salmon Spawning &; Recovery Alliance, Wild Fish Conservancy, the Native Fish Society, and Clark-Skamania Flyfishers, recently lost a big one when Judge Lasnik in Seattle rejected their challenge to National Marine Fisheries Service decisions sanctioning continuing overfishing on threatened Puget Sound chinook salmon. The Alliance sued under two federal statutes that require NMFS to use the best available science in decision making. It has been years since the Service did that, and it is increasingly clear that the Federal courts are the most powerful force making sure that NMFS can deem any particular science it wants as the best science—at least when it comes to harvest science.

Back in 2001, NMFS invited a blue-ribbon panel of outside academics to review its harvest policies. Called the Recovery Science Review Panel, they issued a blistering report (.pdf, 2.3 Mb) concluding that “NMFS should develop a rational [harvest] policy that does not demean scientific common sense” (p. 13). Commercial harvest interests (more precisely, their state and tribal mouthpieces), demanded that NMFS repudiate the Panel report. NMFS bureaucrats scurried about like bugs after their rock was overturned, ultimately commissioning a thirty-eight page review of the Panel’s wide-ranging critiques from the elite science wing of NMFS at its Northwest Fishery Science Center facility (.pdf, 1.5 Mb (redacted version)).

NMFS bureaucrat Frank Lockhart testified that the Science Center’s review “affected NMFS’ adoption of recovery plans and biological opinions pertaining to the listed salmonids” throughout the Northwest. Presumably these included the very decisions Judge Lasnik approved. But NMFS made sure Judge Lasnik never saw the thirty-eight page Science Center report, or the Panel’s “common sense” report that triggered Science Center’s involvement.

Federal judges taught NMFS long ago that it need fear no discovery in litigation with mere citizens. When citizens complain about government decisions, federal judges declare that citizens don’t get to put on evidence. Only the federal agencies do. They go into their files, and bring out a set of documents and present them to the Court as the “administrative record” against which the decisions must be judged. Congress required the Courts to consider the “whole record” in the Administrative Procedure Act, including all documents considered by the agency, but most of the time, no one can ever tell if the agencies have presented the “whole record” or not.

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Sportsfishing Interests Face Ten More Years in the Wilderness

News from the Front #92:

By James Buchal, author The Great Salmon Hoax [here]

The Feds have been centralizing all natural resource decisionmaking and putting it under wraps ever since Nixon sent Judge Boldt out here. So the action in salmon decisionmaking, at least for Columbia River harvest issues, is in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. Public observers learned at a December 12, 2007 status conference before Judge Redden that the Federal government and the Northwest States and Tribes had privately advised the Court of a new ten-year secret harvest deal back in September. The deal will become final when and if NOAA Fisheries issues a biological opinion approving the deal in the next couple of months.

Judge Redden is overseeing the new biological opinion on dam operations, not harvest, but at the December 12th status conference, the attorney representing the State of Washington explained that the two opinions were “intertwined”. More specifically, he told Judge Redden: “. . . we need to get that [dam biological opinion] done in order to prop up what needs to be done in United States v. Oregon in the associated harvest [biological opinion]”.

What did he mean by “prop up”? Most people think Judge Redden’s opinions are about offsetting harm from dam operations, but when NOAA Fisheries models only the effects of dam operations on salmon populations, it can’t find that they threaten to wipe out salmon. So NOAA Fisheries is going to hide future harvest rate increases in the biological opinion on dam operations, even though it knows this is not how the Endangered Species Act is supposed to work. The Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries even admitted in testimony before the Northwest Power & Conservation Council in November that “if you scrupulously used the rules for writing a biological opinion [on dam operations], you wouldn’t include future biological opinions [on salmon harvest that are yet to be written]”.

For all practical purposes, the process of tweaking dam operations was finished years ago, and now the whole game is to raise electric rates to fund program spending for Northwest States and Tribes that can serve as alleged “mitigation” for overfishing listed stocks. NOAA Fisheries is supposed to assess whether harvest increases themselves jeopardize salmon in harvest biological opinions, but it hasn’t really done so for years. Back in 2001, an outside, blue-ribbon panel even told NOAA Fisheries that the harvest biological opinions it was issuing “demean scientific common sense”.

The problem for sportsmen is that they get nothing out of all this crookedness. The dam-funded habitat programs that NOAA Fisheries bribes the States and Tribes with don’t really do much for fish, and deflect attention from what is going on in United States v. Oregon. Details of the new deal have been leaking out piece by piece. First, the Nez Perce Tribe suddenly declared that they are entitled to half of the Snake River hatchery steelhead, a move that Idaho sportsfishing interests described as “devastating”. Next, details were released to the “Columbia River Salmon Fisheries Visioning Process” (which ostensibly includes numerous sportfishing representatives, but is heavily tilted to commercial harvest interests) and then published in the Vancouver Columbian. Non-Tribal interests are going to get fewer spring chinook unless runs exceed 271,000 fish. The fall chinook harvest deal appears to be a sliding scale rising from 20% Tribal and 1.5% non-Tribal shares of the smallest runs to 30% Tribal and 15% non-Tribal at run sizes likely never to be achieved.

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