Leaders of seven of the nation’s leading environmental and conservation groups are calling on Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Council for Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley for their assistance in solving the decades-long controversy surrounding restoration of wild salmon and steelhead to the Columbia/Snake River Basin. In a letter, these top environmental leaders are asking the Secretary and the Chairwoman to meet with them to discuss how to bring stake-holders together to find a solution that protects these remarkable fish and the Pacific Northwest jobs, economy, and cultural and religious values they support.
“It’s time to try something new,” said Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President. “We’ve been litigating and winning in the federal courts for more than a decade. The Court’s most recent decision provides a unique opportunity to develop a process and a solution that can go beyond the courthouse and bring all stakeholders together to find a long-lasting solution. The time is now and we are urging this administration to see that reality and act on it. We can continue to argue this in court, and I believe we will continue to win those arguments, but if we step back and take a different approach—an approach tried in numerous other situations around this country—and bring the affected parties together, we could chart a new course that works for the whole region. Why this administration has so far been afraid to take the step of sitting down and talking with people is beyond me. We hope a meeting with Secretary Bryson and Chairwoman Sutley will get to the bottom of this problem and let us all get going on a solution. “
The conservation leaders’ letter comes on the heels of a request from more than 1200 businesses across the country asking President Obama for the same stakeholder process and a bi-partisan letter from the House of Representatives, signed by more than 50 members of Congress, asking for the same. The groups signed on to the letter are American Rivers, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Native American Rights Fund and the Sierra Club.