The U.S. House of Representatives voted against Idaho’s endangered wild salmon and the families who depend on them today when it voted 225 - 189 to approve a bill overturning a federal judge’s order.
One of the bill’s cosponsors, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, failed to even vote. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho voted in favor of the bill.
“It’s disappointing when elected leaders from Idaho either don’t recognize the importance of the legacy of wild salmon in Idaho or, worse, put that legacy in further jeopardy for short-sighted political reasons,” said IRU Executive Director Kevin Lewis.
The bill, H.R. 3144, will now go to the U.S. Senate for further consideration. If it becomes law the bill will:
- Lock in an expensive, illegal, inadequate salmon plan that protects the status quo and pushes salmon closer to extinction.
- Reduce spill, a critical near-term action to protect young salmon migrating through federal dams and reservoirs.
- Prevent even the study of lower Snake River dam removal and other actions necessary to restore wild salmon, protect communities and honor treaties with Native American tribes.
“Idaho’s salmon and steelhead are returning at historically low numbers,” Lewis said. “Fishermen, fishing families and their communities are feeling the pinch, and this bill would make their dire situation even worse. That’s why we call this bill the ‘Salmon Extinction Act.’”
Lewis said H.R. 3144 passed out of committee a week after a federal appeals court rejected the government’s appeal of a prior federal court ruling. That ruling requires dam managers on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers to spill more water for salmon passage and to rewrite hydropower operations plans by 2021.
“This bill would roll back these hard-won protections for salmon,” Lewis said. “Idaho’s salmon need more help today, not less. Salmon need healthier rivers and safer passage past dams, not new barriers to survival and recovery. We’ll be looking to the Senate now for help stopping this bill that not only upsets the balance of power in our government, but puts an Idaho legacy unnecessarily at risk.”