Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Salmon vs. irrigation and fish politics

How does a top elected official exert influence on science-based resource management? A fascinating article at shows how Vice President Dick Cheney engaged in the fish vs. irrigation crisis on the Klamath River.

The Klamath crisis has turned out to create many downstream effects. Hydropower operations may be affected, and salmon fishing seasons were affected. The ripple effects have been huge, and it seems that they weren't fully explored as the decisions were being made.

From my read, this is a primer on political involvement in natural resource issues. Some of Cheney's efforts have been limited by court decisions, but much of what he did seems to be legal. We elect politicians to set policy, and that's what he did. The byzantine workings of the government include many viable opportunities to influence policy. Some may be legally questionable, and a vigorous politician will pursue those opportunities and hope for success.

If people don't like Cheney's way of influencing federal policy, is it more about tactics or the ideology involved? If it's tactics, then let's mount a "good government" campaign to tighten up use of science in government policy. If it's ideology, then there's a simple solution: VOTE

I know I may be out of step with some of my environmental colleagues on these issues, but that's the blogfish vision. I don't think Al Gore's "Reason" is the right principle, and I don't think "better use of science" will save us. We need to understand the ideologies of those we vote for, and expect them to play out when people get elected.

Hat tip: alevin

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