Steamroll on Columbia
Idaho senator axes funding for agency that studies endangered salmon
Well, that’s one way to deal with scientific findings you don’t like! Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has wiped out funding for the Fish Passage Center, a 12-person, $1.3 million agency widely respected by salmon-conservation experts. The center has documented shrinking fish numbers in the Columbia River system, and last summer a federal judge, citing the center’s data and analysis, ordered water spilled over Snake River dams to help salmon survive. That didn’t sit well with the region’s electric utilities, which happen to be major donors to Craig’s election campaigns. Soon after, Craig — the National Hydropower Association’s “legislator of the year” — maligned the center’s work as “false science” and inserted language into an appropriations bill that zeroed out its funding. “We are biologists and computer scientists, and what we do is just math,” said center manager and fish biologist Michele DeHart. “Math can’t hurt you.” Apparently, however, it can get you hurt.