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Federal judge rejects U.S. salmon plan

A federal judge in Oregon has found that the Obama administration's attempt to make federal hydroelectric power projects in the Northwest safer for protected salmon violates the Endangered Species Act, wire services reported.

Judge James Redden of Federal District Court in Portland ruled that the plan, known as a biological opinion, is too vague and uncertain on specific steps that will be taken in future years to improve salmon habitat, the Associated Press reported.

Redden said he did not think the government could meet the standards of the Endangered Species Act by habitat improvements alone, and that it was time to consider new options, including removing some of the dams.

The judge left the plan in place through 2013, when federal agencies must come up with more specific projects to help salmon.

Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association, said: "While we are still reviewing the decision, NHA is disappointed that the Pacific Northwest will continue to be distracted by litigation for several more years as a result of this latest ruling by Judge Redden regarding the federal hydroelectric dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. NHA believes restoring salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest is best served by pursuing the science-based, cost-effective methods proposed by the past two presidential administrations and approved by well respected members of the scientific and environmental communities. The plan should be given the opportunity to succeed. Hydropower, including the federal system, is the largest renewable electricity resource in the nation. The industry takes seriously its role in habitat preservation and remains committed to innovation of environmentally-friendly technologies."

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