Rahall Pledges to Investigate Politicization of Klamath River Basin Issues

Posted on by Jesse Lee

From the Committee on Natural Resources:

Rahall to Continue Probe of Politicization of Endangered Species Act
Klamath River Basin to be on agenda

Washington, D.C. — Late Wednesday evening, U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, received a letter from 36 House Democrats from California and Oregon calling for an oversight hearing on the alarming role Vice President Dick Cheney may have played in Klamath River Basin decisions. As reported by the Washington Post on June 27, 2007, Cheney's intervention in the development of a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River resulted in a 2002 die-off of around 70,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border — the largest adult salmon kill in the history of the West.

Today, Rep. Rahall released the following statement in response to the request from House Democrats:

“This Committee has already begun examining the penchant for this Administration to favor politics over science in the implementation of the Endangered Species Act, which was highlighted during a May 9th hearing and in the resignation of the Interior Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks over the fiasco.

“In light of the revelations being made over the situation in the Klamath River Basin, it is my intention to again convene the Committee to delve into the issues raised by the Members of Congress from California and Oregon. It certainly appears this Administration will stop at nothing to achieve political gain from natural resources disasters. Ultimately, it will be hardworking Americans and their healthy environment that will lose if we fail to act.”

From this morning:

Dems: Investigate Cheney for role in salmon die-off
Matthew Daly, Associated Press – June 28, 2007

West Coast Democrats called for a hearing Wednesday into the role Vice President Dick Cheney may have played in the 2002 die-off of about 70,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border.

An article in The Washington Post on Wednesday said Cheney played a crucial role in developing a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River that courts later called arbitrary and in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Democrats charged that Cheney’s action resulted in the largest adult salmon kill in the history of the West.

“The ramifications of that salmon kill are still being felt today as returns to the Klamath River are so low that commercial, sport and tribal fishing seasons have been curtailed for the past three years,” Democrats said in a letter calling for the hearing.

Commercial fishing in California and Oregon was cut by more than 90 percent last year — the largest commercial-fishing closure in the history of the country — resulting in more than $60 million in damage to coastal economies, the letter said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., whose district includes the area where the fish died, said Democrats want to have a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee.

“We know that science was manipulated and the law was violated,” Thompson said. “Did in fact the vice president of the United States put pressure on midlevel bureaucrats to alter the science and circumvent the law in order to gain political votes for his re-election or the election of other people in Oregon?”

The released deposition of Susan Ralston, former aide to Karl Rove, revealed that the Republican Counsel was extremely interested in the matter:

Q Were you aware that in early January 2002, Karl Rove gave a PowerPoint presentation, that he used to solicit Republjcan donors, to 50 Department of Interjor managers at a Department retreat in Shepherdstown, West Virgìnia?

A You know, I don't remember that one specifically, but he gave those kinds of presentations. I wouldn't doubt it.

Q Do you recall his discussing with you that he was going to gìve a presentation related to the Klamath River issue at a retreat?

A I don't have a specific recollection. He may have, but I don't have a specific recollection.

Q Were you aware that Mr. Rove traveled to Klamath Rjvelin late January and early February 2002 and spoke to the farmers there?

A He traveled so much. He may have. I vaguely recall that trip, but he traveled so much that I –

Q Do you recall anything about that trìp?

A No. I just have a very vague recollection of ìt.

Q Were you aware that Mr. Rove put together a Cabinet-Level task force on Klamath River issues?

A He may have, but I don't remember.

Q You were not involved in that?

A It sort of sounds vaguely familiar, but I just don't remember the details.

Q Were you aware that the Interior Department's inspector general investigated the White House's involvement in the Interìor Department's decision about Klamath River water levels?

A I do not remember that.

This entry was posted in Draining the Swamp, Labor and American Jobs, Oversight, The Environment. Bookmark the permalink.