Bring Back My Bonnie to Me
The Bonneville Power Administration, the largest hydroelectric power producer in the Northwest, is abandoning some of its wildlife conservation plans due to financial woes. The quasi-governmental agency is required by law to compensate for any damage it causes to natural habitats; recently, however, the Northwest Power Planning Council criticized the BPA for failing to spend money on mitigation programs, even though customers are charged fish and wildlife mitigations fees. Now, the situation is worsening, with the BPA announcing that it will shelve eight conservation projects in four states for an estimated savings of $11 million — not much, in the face of an expected $900 million budget shortfall over the next four years. The cuts will especially affect Montana, which provides about 20 percent of the water flowing through BPA dams, but will now get just 1.5 percent of fish and wildlife mitigation dollars.