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Congressmen urge hearing in Yreka

By Steve Kadel, Herald and News 6/30/07

   U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, ROre., and two other Republican congressmen are urging that a hearing on Vice President Dick Cheney’s possible role in a 2002 salmon die-off be conducted in the Klamath Basin.
   They responded to the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W. Va., who said earlier this week his panel will hold a hearing to determine if Cheney was involved in the Klamath River fish die-off.
   The hearing stems from a Washington Post report implicating Cheney. The story said he pressured officials to ignore the Endangered Species Act affecting suckers and coho salmon in order to provide more water for irrigators.
   ‘Declaring no threat’
   “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 fish,” the Post story said. “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.”
   Two California Republicans representing the Klamath River watershed joined Walden in suggesting the hearing be in Yreka, Calif.
   “We urge you to hold a bipartisan field hearing in the Klamath Basin at your earliest convenience,” the congressmen wrote in a letter to Rahall and Don Young, RAlaska, the ranking Republican on the Natural Resources Committee.
   Recent cooperation
   The letter noted recent cooperation among diverse groups such as farmers, fishermen, environmentalists and tribes in seeking answers to Klamath River water allocation problems.
   “ By h igh l ight i ng t he positive efforts that have occurred in the Basin since the devastating water shutoff of 2001 and the 2002 fish die-off, and the constructive dialogue going on, we believe Congress can highlight how political differences can be set aside in an effort to reach solutions that enable all interests to get well together,” the letter said.
   It added that, “increased transparency and scrutiny are essential to uncovering misleading science, bureaucratic mistakes and unfounded agency decision-making that have led to disastrous results for both the environment and for people in this area.”
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