Congress will investigate Vice
President Cheney's role in crimping water to salmon in favor of
farms, a committee chairman announced Friday, but some in the
basin worry it will only open old wounds.
House Natural Resources
Committee Chairman Nick Rahall agreed to conduct hearings after
Rep. Mike Thompson and 35 lawmakers from California and Oregon
asked for an inquiry following a Wednesday Washington Post
The article covers Cheney's
issues, as well as in pressing
for air quality controls friendly to industry, among other
matters. Cheney's influence led to full irrigation deliveries in
2002, the article contends. Later that year, more than 68,000
salmon died in a hot, low river.
”It certainly appears this
administration will stop at nothing to achieve political gain from
natural resource disasters,” said Rahall, a West Virginia
Democrat, in a statement. “Ultimately, it will be hard working
Americans and their healthy environment that will lose if we fail
Thompson, D-St. Helena, said
that courts have found the Bush administration's water policy in
violation of the Endangered Species Act and the public should know
if Cheney pushed for science to be manipulated for political gain.
But since 2002, irrigators in
, tribes along the Klamath and
fishermen have brokered a truce. Especially in the past three
years, the groups have worked together to push for basin-wide
salmon restoration efforts and cooperation in pressing for a
settlement over Pacificorp's request to relicense its
Some worry investigations may
threaten that truce.
Yurok Tribe policy analyst Troy
Fletcher said the Post article is new spin on old news, and
wondered if the expense of investigations wouldn't be better spent
on restoration projects. He said the real news is how the upper
and lower basin is working together.
”The Yurok Tribe hopes that
this does not detract from efforts to resolve long-standing issues
,” Fletcher said.
The stakes are high for people
up and down the river, said Greg Addington, executive director for
the Klamath Water Users Association. The association represents
many of the upper basin's irrigators, who protested irrigation
cutoffs in 2001 and to whose aid Cheney supposedly came.
But Addington said it's not in
anyone's interest to start slinging mud again, and said the
association's members are committed to moving forward.
”We're a lot more interested
in looking forward than we are about looking back at what happened
in 2001 and 2002,” Addington said.
John Driscoll can be reached at
441-0504 or email@example.com.