Lazy USA Fails to Protect Salmon for 17 Years

     BOISE, Idaho (CN) – Seventeen years is too long for Uncle Sam to delay protections for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in Idaho lakes and rivers, Northwest Environmental Advocates claims in court.
     “This case involves 17 years of delay by the National Marine Fisheries Service (‘NMFS’) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (‘FWS’) in carrying out mandatory statutory duties designed to protect Idaho’s waters and aquatic and aquatic-dependent species, including threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead,” the complaint states.
     The Portland, Ore.-based environmental group sued the agencies in Federal Court.
     The complaint states: “The Services have unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed completion of ESA [Endangered Species Act] Section 7 consultation on EPA’s completed actions approving Idaho’s new or revised water quality criteria for 23 individual toxic pollutants. The Services thus have not complied with their mandatory duties to consult with EPA under ESA Section 7 to produce a final Biological Opinion or to produce a final Biological Opinion within a reasonable period of time.”
     The standards for pollutants are needed to protect species that include Snake River sockeye salmon, Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon, Snake River fall Chinook salmon, Snake River steelhead, five species of aquatic snails, bull trout and Kootenai River white sturgeon, according to the complaint.
     “Many or all of these species are likely to be adversely affected by the Services’ failure to complete consultation and issue a Biological Opinion or Biological Opinions on Idaho’s toxic criteria,” the complaint states.
     The list of pollutants includes DDT, PCBs, pentachlorophenol (PCP), chromium, nickel, silver, arsenic, cadmium, copper, cyanide, lead, zinc, mercury, selenium and others.
     The environmentalists claim Uncle Sam is violating the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. It asks the court to order the agencies to do their job.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Kevin Cassidy, with Earthrise Law Center at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., and Lauren Rule, with Advocates for the West in Boise.

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