The question: With respect to the lower Snake River waterway and dams, does government agency truth matter?
Spring 2015 – In response to a well documented, eleven-citizen petition, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General launched a still ongoing investigation regarding possible "False and Misleading Statements and Benefit-Cost Analysis in the Port of Lewiston, Idaho, TIGER IV Discretionary Grant Application for the Port of Lewiston Dock Extension Project." Details here. Port of Lewiston is the lower Snake's furthest inland port.
Spring/Summer 2015 – Approximately 40 letters-to-the-editor appeared in the Lewiston Tribune and other regional newspapers rebutting false and misleading information provided by the Port of Lewiston manager, commissioners and website regarding port or lower Snake River waterway operations, and by the Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District regarding the Snake River transportation waterway. Samples here.
October 3, 2015 – Approximately 300 Washingtonians, Oregonians, Idahoans and others rallied on the river in the Free The Snake Flotilla in protest of the continued existence of the four lower Snake dams. Participants' expressed concerns regarding forty years' negative impact the dams have had on wild Snake River salmon and steelhead, and in turn, on lamprey, bull trout, and Puget Sounds' southern resident killer whales whose survival depends upon Snake River salmon. The participants do not believe the Corps of Engineers' story, echoed by the special interest organization Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, that fish mitigation methods at the four dams are improving wild salmon and steelhead survival rates. Coverage here.
October 21, 2015 – Snake River Resurrection and nine allies sent a letter to Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District Commander Lt. Col. Vail challenging point-by-point the accuracy of post-flotilla statements he had issued to the press, delivered during interviews, and published on the WW District website. The letter, copied to Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, Chief of Engineers, USACE, Washington D.C., stated, “We would hope you … tout an informed citizenry as crucial to democracy and consider it your mandate as a government official—particularly one of your rank and influence—to provide the public with accurate, data-verifiable information.…" (Letter available here.)
October 27, 2015 – In a letter responding to an op-ed in the Seattle Times by West Coast Region NOAA Fisheries administrator Will Stelle, eight respected fisheries directors and scientists challenged Stelle's points. This letter states…
"We are compelled to respond to your recent column in the Seattle Times, "NOAA Fisheries embraces – not ignores – climate research" (August 29, 2015). Your views omit more than they say and so present a misleading and incomplete picture of your agency's unfortunate failure to take aggressive and necessary steps to address the effects of climate change on the freshwater habitat of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin. This failure is not new; it has accumulated over nearly two decades of inadequate and ineffective action. … you are correct that NOAA Fisheries has been a leader in conducting climate research and analysis…what NOAA has failed to do – and repeatedly – is actually apply the results of its research if we are going to continue to have wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers in a climate change world. The recitation of NOAA's "actions" to address climate change in your column does a good job of highlighting this failure…"
Letter attached included below this.
"The above challenges raise serious questions regarding government agency truth and transparency," said Snake River Resurrection Operations Team member Linwood Laughy. "Government agencies are knowingly, repeatedly providing false and misleading information regarding lower Snake River fish endangerment and survival, usefulness of the waterway, and viability of the aging dams. And these agencies are bamboozling us using funds from the public purse!"
Should discussion and decision-making about the lower Snake River's fishery, overall environment, transportation waterway, hydropower and dams depend upon false and misleading information? Does government agency truth matter?
Snake River Resurrection