Redden: One More Try, NOAA, Or I Decide

The latest Federal plan to save and recover Columbia River salmon is “technically flawed,” and Judge Redden says NOAA-Fisheries gets “one last chance to come up with something better that won’t violate the Endangered Species Act” “before he rules on its broader merits.”

Redden’s been a stickler on this salmon issue. He has “twice before rejected federal blueprints for Columbia Basin salmon, but he has given the government multiple opportunities to amend the one currently before his court.”

That according to articles by the New York Times, Associated Press and The Oregonian out today.

In a three-page letter from Redden released yesterday (and available on The Oregonian’s site), the judge writes:

Federal Defendants have an obligation under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) to rely on the best available science. They cannot rely exclusively on materials that support one position, while ignoring new or opposing scientific information. Federal Defendants recognize that they must supplement of the Administrative Record with all of the documents that support the (Adaptive Management Implementation Plan). They must also include new and pertinent scientific information relating to the proposed action (e.g., recent climate change data). If that scientific data requires additional analysis or mitigation to avoid jeopardy, Federal Defendants must adequately address those issues. I will not sign an order of voluntary remand that effectively relieves Federal Defendants of their obligation to use the best available science and consider all important aspects of the problem. This court will not dictate the scope or substance of Federal Defendants’ remand, but Federal Defendants must comply with the ESA in preparingW amended/supplemental biological opinion.

There are two options. Pursuant to the attached proposed order, Federal Defendants can conduct a voluntary remand using the best available science and addressing all relevant factors. Alternatively, Federal Defendants can reject the proposed order, and I will issue a ruling on the validity of the 2008 BiOp without consideration of the AMIP.

The Obama Administration has until Feb. 19 if they wish to improve upon the plan.

A NOAA spokesman in Seattle said the agency would carefully consider the letter; the AP reports that “salmon advocates said the judge echoed what they have been arguing all along: that the plan needs to do more for salmon.”

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