Did Dick Cheney kill 70,000 salmon? Committee to probe
A Congressional committee is preparing to investigate Vice President Dick Cheney's role in water-management decisions that killed more than 70,000 salmon in Oregon.
Three dozen West Coast Democrats requested the Resources Committee investigation after the Washington Post reported of Cheney's involvement in managing flows from the Klamath River in 2002.
The Post reported that Cheney personally contacted the Interior Department official in charge of the program to push for more irrigation water be delivered from the river to drought-striken farmers and ranchers.
Environmentalists and officials in California and Washington blame the federal policy, which critics say violated the Endangered Species Act, was responsible for the deaths of 70,000 salmon, whose corpses lined the banks of the river. The Post said the plan was enacted "because of Cheney's intervention."
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W. Va., told the Associated Press that the committee is investigating the Bush administration's "penchant to favor politics over science in implementation of the Endangered Species Act."
"It certainly appears this administration will stop at nothing to achieve political gain from natural resources disasters," Rahall added. "Ultimately, it will be hardworking Americans and their healthy environment that will lose if we fail to act."
Democrats say the salmon kill devastated the commercial fishing industries in Oregon and California, with fishermen still feeling the economic effects today.
Excerpts from AP report:
"The ramifications of that salmon kill are still being felt today as returns to the Klamath River are so low that commercial, sport and tribal fishing seasons have been curtailed for the past three years," 36 House Democrats said in a letter to Rahall calling for the hearing.
Commercial fishing in California and Oregon was cut by more than 90 percent last year — the largest commercial fishing closure in the history of the country — resulting in more than $60 million in damage to coastal economies, the letter said.
Megan McGinn, a spokeswoman for the vice president's office, said late Wednesday she had not seen the letter and could not comment.
FULL AP ARTICLE AT THIS LINK