The protracted court fight over Northwest salmon and hydroelectric dams has hit a snag.
The Obama Administration recently submitted to Portland Judge James Redden what federal officials called an “insurance policy” for endangered salmon.
But in letters sent to attorneys over the last week – and again in court Monday Judge Redden warned that the feds' new management plan may not have gone through proper steps before being finalized.
After the court hearing Monday, administrator Jane Lubchenco, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, defended the plan she supervised.
Jane Lubchenco: “Our view when we were doing the adaptive management implementation plan was that it was completely consistent with established procedures for modifying the biological opinion – because it even had an adaptive management component in it.”
The judge asked both sides to submit additional arguments on the procedural question.
Redden said he was concerned that if the documents didn't follow federal guidelines, the entire biological opinion could be overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
That could force years of further planning and litigation.