From the Natural Resources Committee:
Cheney Invited to Testify on Klamath Salmon Kill
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, today confirmed that Vice President Dick Cheney, a former Member of the Committee, has been invited to testify at a July 31 oversight hearing on his apparent role in influencing scientific and policy decisions at the Department of the Interior.
As reported in 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 the 2002 die-off of an estimated 77,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border — and the subsequent collapse of the West Coast salmon-fishing industry.
The hearing will seek to examine the causes and consequences of political intervention in the decision-making process at the Interior Department, an alarming trend the Committee began exploring at a May 9 hearing that delved into the role of the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in politicizing the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Leaving No Tracks
Jo Becker and Barton Gellman, Washington Post – June 27, 2007
First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.
Because of Cheney’s intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.
Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.
The full invitation:
July 12, 2007
The Vice President
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Vice President Cheney:
The Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing on July 31, 2007, to examine the role that elected officials and political appointees within the Administration have played in the scientific decision making processes under the Endangered Species Act and other laws governing the conservation and management of our nation's natural resources. I cordially invite you to testify at this hearing.
As you are aware, a June 27, 2007 Washington Post article detailed your apparent efforts, as well as the efforts of political appointees in the Administration, to influence a wide range of scientific and policy decisions at the Department of Interior and Commerce to benefit industry at the expense of our natural resources. For example, the article alleges that your 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. We invite you, as a former member of this Committee, to offer your views on these reports and explain your role in this and other decisions.
Please have your staff submit electronically (in Word or WordPerfect) statements of proposed testimony to Nancy Locke, Chief Clerk, Nancy.Locke@mail.house.gov, no later than Friday, July 27, 2007. Your oral testimony should not exceed five minutes and should summarize your written remarks. You may introduce into the record any other supporting documentation you wish to present in accordance with the enclosed guidelines.
The Committee on Natural Resources Rules are available on its website at http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/ and the Rules of the House of Representatives, including clause 2(k) of Rule XI, are available at the House of Representatives' website at http://www.house.gov/rules.pdf . Copies can also be sent to you on request.
Should you or your staff have any questions or need additional information, please contact Amelia Jenkins, Jean Flemma or Ms. Nancy Locke, Chief Clerk at 202-225-6065.
With warm regards, I am
NICK J. RAHALL, II
The released deposition of Susan Ralston, former aide to Karl Rove, also revealed that the Republican Counsel was extremely interested in Klamath River 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 VirgÃƒÂ¬nia?
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 gÃƒÂ¬ve 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 trÃƒÂ¬p?
A No. I just have a very vague recollection of ÃƒÂ¬t.
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 InterÃƒÂ¬or Department's decision about Klamath River water levels?
A I do not remember that.