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News from the Front #23:
A Call to Action: Confront 60 Minutes Now!
The battle over the Snake River Dams is escalating to a new, national level. Yesterday, a crew from CBS's 60 Minutes visited Lower Granite Dam to be indoctrinated in the Shining Path to Salmon Recovery by representatives of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and other environmentalists. (Why does Governor Kempthorne continue to break his campaign promises to get this rogue agency under control?)
Absent intervention, there is no reason to expect anything but a hatchet job from 60 Minutes. The show probably follows a script all but written by American Rivers or one of its fellow travelers. That was the case in the recent 60 Minutes attack on the Farm Bureau, which brought to video life the claims of a white paper by Defenders of Wildlife, which is locked in mortal combat with the Farm Bureau over the wolf introduction program. (Defenders of Wildlife expressed chagrin that it hadn't gotten more credit in the program, failing to understand what 60 Minutes knows: the allegations have far more credibility coming from 60 Minutes than from environmentalists.) 60 Minutes' pattern of legitimizing claims by environmentalists was established a decade ago when 60 Minutes promoted the Alar scare.
For those wishing detailed insight into how 60 Minutes operates, rent The Insider, an entertaining cinematic attack on 60 Minutes from the Left, and then compare and contrast it with the true facts concerning Jeffery Wigand and his testimony concerning tobacco research. Brown & Williamson Tobacco has an extensive website comparing the movie and 60 Minutes' treatment of the facts with real world documentation. While I do not take anything a tobacco company says as gospel truth, one will find on the site, for example, an actual FBI affidavit offering substantial evidence that Dr. Wigand fabricated the death threats that form the dramatic core of the movie. If the material on this website is not true, Dr. Wigand and 60 Minutes have the libel case of the century against Brown & WIlliamson.
There is only one hope to change the mind of 60 Minutes: grassroots activism. 60 Minutes is likely to pay little or no attention to paid lobbyists telling the truth about the Dams, except to carefully edit their interviews to make them look like craven liars. But if 60 Minutes receives hundreds or even thousands of calls and letters apprising it, in rough and uncoordinated fashion, of the true facts concerning the Snake River Dams, maybe it will begin to question the environmentalist story line, and dig beneath the uncontroversial comments of the Corps' muzzled spokespeople.
There is reason for hope. The very old men that run 60 Minutes are FDR liberals, not pod people from the planet Gore, and they may well be sympathetic to an outpouring of support from the very people FDR sought to benefit. Unlike the elitist pod people, they will weigh the concerns of hundreds of farmers more heavily than a few fly fishermen.
The most important thing to tell 60 Minutes is how you personally will be hurt if the Dams are removed. The second most important thing to tell 60 Minutes is how removing the Dams will do very little for the fish. Here are some facts we are never likely to hear from 60 Minutes unless they are force-fed to 60 Minutes:
The latest research by the National Marine Fisheries Service shows that juvenile salmon survival through the dams is as high or higher than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, when salmon runs were much healthier, and before the Dams were built. Wild salmon runs increased for several years running after the last Snake River Dam was built.
Most of the salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest that have been listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act don't pass any dams.
On the East Coast, they are proposing to remove dams because of declines in the shad population, but Columbia and Snake River shad populations have skyrocketed since the dams were built.
The idea that the dams slow down the river so that low flows kill fish is almost completely false. The most recent studies show that the millions of acre-feet of water released downriver every spring to speed salmon migration had and have no measurable effect on juvenile salmon survival
Radio-tag data show that adult survival is higher through the dams than through a natural river.
Environmentalists claim dam removal will help salmon by reducing temperatures; the Corps' DEIS correctly finds that projected summer temperature increases of up to 9º from dam removal.
Many, many people depend upon these dams and their low-cost, clean, and renewable hydropower; the idea that 3500 megawatts of dam power can be replaced with only 890 megawatts of new power stations or through conservation lacks any basis in reality.
The idea that hordes of tourists to come to Eastern Washington and spend $150 million a year, which the Corps identifies as the single largest benefit of dam removal (offsetting much of its cost), is nonsense. Fishery benefits are pure fantasy; tenuous gains from salmon and steelhead fishing would be offset by drops in walleye and bass fishing.
Fishery bureaucracies have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from those who operate the dams, and cannot be trusted to provide objective evidence of the effects of dams on fish. Independent peer reviewers express sharp skepticism of the PATH report suggesting benefits from dam breaching
The simplest way to get more salmon is to grow them. Instead Government-run hatcheries club "excess" salmon to death, strip out the eggs, and sell them to the Japanese. These eggs should be planted in hatchboxes all over the Pacific Northwest to enhance natural runs.
So long as fishery managers set harvest rates based on how many hatchery fish there are, through management councils controlled by fishermen and their politicians, wild stocks will inevitably decline.
Huge colonies of birds and marine mammals created in the 1980s through Federal directives and Corps actions collectively consume far more endangered salmon than the Snake River dams.
The Federal government has, in effect, a tax subsidy for killing endangered salmon; in 1988, Congress exempted all Tribal fishing income from federal income and employment taxes, creating huge incentives to focus Tribal economic development on exploiting endangered fish. The first listing came just three years later.
I cannot stress enough the importance of action to forestall 60 Minutes from shoveling environmentalist TV propaganda into as many as 100 million American minds. The contents of this single program will have more impact on the probability of Snake River Dam removal than any public meeting, or even series of public meetings, in the Pacific Northwest. Early intelligence suggests that the 60 Minutes program will be carefully crafted to make the dominant theme wasteful government spending in lieu of the comparatively-cheap and effective option of dam removal. This spin provides cover for all the spineless liberal Republicans back East to turn their backs on the Northwest Delegation and cast what the lobbyists call an "easy pro-environmental vote" to remove the Dams.
How do you contact 60 Minutes? In the initial version of this News from the Front, I posted the address and phone number supplied on the CBS website. An alert reader has provided the direct contact information for the people actually doing the story:
Michelle Webb, Associate Producer
524 West 57 Street
New York, New York 10019-2985
How much easier could it be to tell 60 Minutes what you think? Just click on the e-mail addresses.
You have permission to reprint this article, and are encouraged to do so. The sooner people figure out what's going on, the quicker we'll have fish in the rivers.
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