Connect with us

Commentary

Preserving Wildlife and a Way of Life

For decades, hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River have been killing off salmon that must traverse them to spawn, Southern Resident orcas that feed on salmon, and the cultures of tribal nations who consider the salmon their first food. Through an intersection of bipartisan interest that’s unusual these days and once-in-a-generation federal funding, we may finally have a chance to end the spiral toward extinction for all three.

Published

on

Caption: Ben Jealous.

By Ben Jealous

For decades, hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River have been killing off salmon that must traverse them to spawn, Southern Resident orcas that feed on salmon, and the cultures of tribal nations who consider the salmon their first food. Through an intersection of bipartisan interest that’s unusual these days and once-in-a-generation federal funding, we may finally have a chance to end the spiral toward extinction for all three.

Where millions of Chinook salmon would make the upstream journey from the Pacific to the Idaho habitat where they laid eggs before the dams were erected, in recent years that count has been in the thousands. The numbers are much worse for Coho and Sockeye salmon. Getting over the dams to the spawning grounds and back to the ocean has proven too much for fish who are able to travel a thousand miles to spawn. The orcas have less to eat as a result and there were only 73 left last year.

Not surprisingly, the dire situation exists in part because the dams were built ignoring the needs and the treaty rights of Indigenous people who consider the salmon sacred symbols of resilience and renewal. They have been fighting for the salmon with science and with litigation for years. Their treaties with the United States maintain their rights to fish in rivers of the Columbia Basin — a meaningless benefit if there are no fish to harvest.

These species are endangered; we’ve spent more than $18 billion unsuccessfully over the years to bring back salmon populations alone with the dams in place. As a tribal leader told me last month, “the government agencies are managing our extinction.” It’s a story that’s too familiar in so many communities that bear the brunt of choices that destroy the climate and pollute the planet from the cancer alley in Louisiana to hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico.

Those fighting for the salmon, the orcas, and the people who rely on the fish spiritually and economically got a new champion two years ago when Mike Simpson, the Republican Congressman who represents the eastern half of Idaho, unveiled a plan that includes breaching the four dams by removing the earthen berms that flank them to let the river run freely. He got a more favorable response from the Democratic governors in Washington and Oregon than from other Republicans in the Pacific Northwest.

Last year, Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray (both Democrats from Washington) added their voices with their own joint report and recommendations around breaching. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also concluded that circumventing the dams must be “the centerpiece action” to restore salmon populations.

The new star in this political constellation is the Biden Administration, who agreed to pause the long running litigation to look specifically at recovering salmon in the Columbia Basin, removing the lower Snake River dams, and meeting the treaty rights responsibilities. This new look at options comes along with the historic infrastructure and inflation reduction packages that President Biden and Congress have approved since 2021. Simpson points to them as the way to pay for his $33 billion plan. Replacing the electricity generated by the dams can be done with renewable generation. So is replacing jobs and revitalizing state economies through greener industries and tourism tied to the outdoors.

There’s a lot more work to be done, starting with the Biden Administration joining Murray, Inslee and Simpson, making decisions that work for salmon, orca and Tribal Nations. Their proposals aren’t perfect, but they are a usable framework to get work moving to deal with the dams.

Years ago, Colin Powell told me it’s more important in a democracy to find the thing you can agree on with people who otherwise may be political opponents than the many things you disagree about. “Figure that out and you can get a lot done,” he told me. I see that playing out on the Snake River, and that can’t come a moment too soon for wildlife and native cultures at the verge of disappearing forever.

Ben Jealous is executive director of the Sierra Club. He is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Never Forget Our People Were Always Free,” published in January.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Bay Area

Opinion: A Strange Tale of Two Political Fights: Sheng Thao and Donald Trump

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao must be wondering how can a convicted felon with 34 guilty verdicts be riding high, while she, an uncharged elected official, fights for her political life? That’s how strange politics is in America today.

Published

on

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

By Emil Guillermo

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao must be wondering how can a convicted felon with 34 guilty verdicts be riding high, while she, an uncharged elected official, fights for her political life?

That’s how strange politics is in America today.

On the national stage, President Joe Biden made an historic ask of Americans this week. It’s summer, and everyone is a “low information” voter now. But for the sake of the country, and the future of democracy, it’s time to pay attention. Get nerdy now.

Biden is essentially tied with Trump, a newly convicted felon, which tells you how cockeyed political values are in America.

Instead of policy, Trump is all bluster talking about a pre-debate drug test because he’s sure Biden is going to be “jacked up” on some kind of performance enhancing drug.

That kind of thing gets attention. Not whether you’re going to things to improve people’s lives.

But rest assured, if Donald Trump is elected for a second time, the blueprint is already out. The Heritage Foundation’s plan calls for a “Department of Life,” and a theocratic-based world view where abortion is illegal, and minorities of all stripes are disempowered.

A vote for Trump represents a radical reformatting of democracy.

POLITICS IN OAKLAND

In the meantime, local Oakland politics is slightly different, but no less confounding.

Sheng Thao, 18 months into her tenure as the first Hmong American to be mayor of a major U.S. city, is recovering from the worst week in her life.

First, a group of Oakland citizens qualified enough signatures to hold a recall election of Thao. Then, on Wednesday, 15 people were shot at an unauthorized Juneteenth celebration in the city’s Lake Merritt area. The topper came Thursday, when the FBI executed a pre-dawn raid of a number of houses including Thao’s, all connected to a case reportedly involving improper campaign donations from Andy Duong, a Vietnamese American businessman whose company, CalWaste, won the contract to run the city’s recycling program. No arrests were made, just boxes and computers hauled from the various homes. Not a good look.

 

THAO: “I AM INNOCENT”

For five days, Thao was silent, but on Monday, she came out firing her best shot.

“I have done nothing wrong,” Thao said at a news conference. “I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me. I have not been charged with a crime and I am confident that I will not be charged because I am innocent.”

Thao said she was seeking answers from the U.S. attorney as to why she wasn’t “offered the opportunity to cooperate voluntarily.”

Good question. Unless they thought she was hiding something.

Thao addressed the shootings last week first with care, then said she won’t be distracted from the real issues of Oakland. Like safety or the selling of the Oakland Coliseum to a Black-owned group.

But she went back to questioning the timing of last week.

“I want to know more about the handful of billionaires from San Francisco and Piedmont who are hell bent on running me out of office,” she said, questioning how the recall announcement and the raid seemed orchestrated with the media “to fan the flames and bend the facts to shape a narrative.”

Trump, the convicted felon, overcomes reality and is propelled by “friends” who see him as a winner. Thao was voted in through RCV, rank-choice-voting. She was the most people’s No. 2, not No. 1.

Maybe that’s why few allies are standing up behind her now. The Oakland NAACP, and even one Asian group is calling for her to resign.

For Thao, this will be the test if her story can overcome it all, again.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com

Continue Reading

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of July 3 – 9, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of July 3 – 9, 2024

Published

on

To enlarge your view of this issue, use the slider, magnifying glass icon or full page icon in the lower right corner of the browser window.

Continue Reading

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of June 26 – July 2, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 26 – July 2, 2024

Published

on

To enlarge your view of this issue, use the slider, magnifying glass icon or full page icon in the lower right corner of the browser window.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.
Bay Area33 mins ago

Opinion: A Strange Tale of Two Political Fights: Sheng Thao and Donald Trump

Taylor Jackson, regional organizer, Southern California Black Worker Hub. Courtesy photo.
Business47 mins ago

Opinion: California Needs to Do More to Boost Employment for Black Americans

Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D-Los Angeles)
City Government1 hour ago

Opinion: We Can Protect Public Employee Pensions and the Environment

From top left: Ain Ashby and Mariah Ashby at the Happy Juneteenth booth, Cynthia Williams at the Center for Domestic Peace booth, Sarah Turner, Anne Deverb, and Nancy Miller at the Come to The Table booth, Tony Swan and June Farmer at the Marin County Flood Control booth, Desirae Rogeb, Yero Massamba, and Ngona Badila at the O Greena-Ancient Remedies booth, People dancing, ChaintiAna Thomas, The Juneteenth Festival stage. Photos by Godfrey Lee.
Arts and Culture1 hour ago

Marin City Juneteenth Festival Celebrates Unity in the Community

More than 200 people attended the scholarship reception hosted by the San Francisco-Bay Area National Pan Hellenic Council. Photo by Chika Emeka.
Bay Area2 hours ago

Pan-Hellenic Council Awards Scholarships to Hundreds of High School Seniors

Pastor Kenneth Chambers
Bay Area2 hours ago

A Summer of Reckoning for the Unhoused: The Work Before Us in Oakland

Oakland Black Cowboys Association President Wilbert McAlister leads a girl on a pony ride at the B-H Brilliant Minds Juneteenth. Photo by Daisha Williams.
Arts and Culture2 hours ago

West Oakland Juneteenth Event Cultivated Love for All

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao during a press conference following the FBI raid on her home. Photo courtesy ABC7 San Francisco.
Bay Area2 hours ago

Mayor Sheng Thao Says, “I Am Innocent” While Addressing Public First Time After FBI Raid

Mayor Sheng Thao.
Bay Area3 hours ago

Oakland Mayor’s Team is Jumping Ship: Personal Attorney, Chief of Communications Resigns Following FBI Raids

Photo courtesy of the RPD.
Community3 hours ago

Multi-Agency Traffic Enforcement Operation Coming to Richmond

A marching band followed the parade route from Kennedy High School to Nicholl Park. Photos by Mike Aldax and Mike Kinney.
Arts and Culture3 hours ago

Hundreds of Revelers Cheer Parade, Join Fun at Juneteenth Festival in Nicholl Park

The First Presidential Debate of 2024
Community3 hours ago

The First Presidential Debate of 2024 Mired in Trump’s Lies, Poor Media Moderation

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. Oakland Police Chief Floyd Mitchell. File photo.
Bay Area4 hours ago

Juneteenth Mass Shooting Suspect Charge with Multiple Counts of Felony Assault by Alameda County DA Pamela Price

Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, a former journalist and member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, supports SB 1327.
Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌3 days ago

Funded by Big Tech? Calif. Lawmakers Debate the Future of Journalism

The ABPsi-Bay Area is a restorative (healing) resource committed to providing the Post Newspaper Group readership with monthly discussions about critical issues in Black Mental Health. Join us at our monthly chapter meetings every third Saturday via Zoom and/or contact us at bayareaabpsi@gmail.com.
Bay Area3 days ago

‘Skh,’’ UbuNtu’ and Climate Change: A Black Spiritual Issue

Trending

Copyright ©2021 Post News Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.