The tribe has endorsed legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., calling for economic, engineering and environmental studies to prepare for breaching the four lower Snake River dams. The bill, which has 20 House co-sponsors, also would authorize removal of the dams if the secretaries of Commerce or Interior or the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency determine other efforts to restore runs of federally protected salmon have failed. "We must begin planning today in order to make a thoughtful decision regarding the future of salmon and hydropower before it is too late,'' said Samuel Penney, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. "The Salmon Planning Act authorized the planning and evaluation that must occur to allow the region to respond quickly if major actions are necessary to protect and recover imperiled salmon.'' The bill provides no money for dam removal and has been denounced by Republican House members, including Butch Otter of Idaho and Doc Hastings of Washington. The bill also calls for a scientific review of last year's decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service to delay a final verdict on dam removal.
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