U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon this morning agreed to a request by the Biden Administration and plaintiffs to extend for another year the stay in the litigation challenging the federal government’s environmental impact statement and biological opinion for Columbia/Snake river salmon and steelhead. The parties want more time to identify “comprehensive” solutions to basin salmon recovery.
Pending shoreline projects in the Salish Sea can now proceed under a new regulatory tool, a programmatic consultation.
A federal mediator told the Columbia Basin Collaborative Wednesday that his group is hoping for “an extension on the stay” of litigation over Columbia/Snake river basin salmon recovery so mediation among plaintiffs and defendants can continue to move forward.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2022 approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday includes a lengthy section called “Columbia River Basin Restoration” and would require an inter-agency assessment of the four lower Snake River dams’ impact on fish and wildlife.
The White House this week made clear it plans to be involved in Columbia River salmon recovery, saying it has engaged mediators to facilitate “public policy dialogue” with governments and stakeholders.
Due to continuing severe drought conditions in southern Idaho, the Bureau of Reclamation said it is unlikely it can provide this year a biological opinion level of flow augmentation from the upper Snake River basin to aid migrating juvenile salmon and steelhead in the lower Snake River.
Plaintiffs in the challenge to the Columbia/Snake River biological opinion for salmon and steelhead filed this week an unopposed stay in federal court that effectively puts the litigation on hold while all the parties search for comprehensive salmon recovery solutions.
Defendants in the latest challenge to the Columbia/Snake River biological opinion for salmon and steelhead and final environmental impact statement have questioned the cross-claims of the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association, saying the irrigators lack jurisdiction.
A federal judge in Oregon has set a schedule for future litigation proceedings in the eighth challenge since 2001 to the federal biological opinion for threatened and endangered Columbia River basin salmon and steelhead. Activity begins this month and extends out to at least August 2022 when final summary judgement briefs are due to the court.