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Know the West

The latest bounce


The Bonneville Power Administration wants the Northwest to scrap salmon recovery plans (HCN, 8/28/00: he latest salmon plan heads toward a train wreck), so the federal agency can produce more power for the region. Due to low precipitation and expensive power, BPA says if it doesn't release reservoir water now, the Northwest could be vulnerable to blackouts (HCN, 1/29/01: Power on the loose). Salmon advocates, including Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, say that means endangered fish won't have the water they need this spring.

Washington state Sen. Bob Morton is pushing legislation that would place a two-year moratorium on killing hatchery salmon. Currently, officials at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, like their counterparts in Oregon (HCN, 10/9/00: Killing salmon to save the species), kill surplus hatchery salmon returning to spawn so that they don't mate with wild endangered salmon, and weaken the species. Morton says allowing hatchery fish to spawn will increase depleted populations.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton has announced she'll consider allowing oil companies to drill in currently off-limits oil and gas reserves in the Rocky Mountains. While Norton says drilling would be done in an environmentally responsible manner, citizen groups from Montana to New Mexico have vowed to sue if the Bush administration proceeds with its proposal (HCN, 9/25/00: Colliding forces: Has Colorado's oil and gas industry met its match?).

The Bush administration is upping its efforts to curb illegal immigration (HCN, 10/9/00: The hunters and the hunted: The Arizona-Mexico border turns into the 21st century frontier). "Operation Crossroads," unveiled in mid-February by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, assigns 100 officers to airports in Phoenix and Las Vegas in order to decrease people- and drug-smuggling. Critics warn this will encourage racial profiling.

Idaho officials ignored obvious air quality and hazardous waste violations at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, say two environmental groups, the Environmental Defense Institute of Troy, Idaho, and Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free, of Jackson, Wyo. (HCN, 7/3/00: Idaho labs blow another stack). The Environmental Protection Agency is currently deciding whether to investigate.