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A coalition of environmental groups led by American Rivers and Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund has filed suit in federal court challenging a White House decision to lower protections for salmon and other fish in the re-licensing of 70 dams across the country. At issue is a loophole in the 2005 Energy Policy Act that allows dam operators to avoid implementing onerous and expensive wildlife protections that they deem too costly or that limit hydroelectric power production. So far, 17 dam operators who initially applied for re-licensing prior to passage of the Energy Policy Act have called on the courts to grant them retroactive exemptions from putting wildlife protections in place.
Environmentalists are calling on the courts to strike down requests for wildlife protection exemptions, which they say are illegal. They also claim that federal agencies did not conduct a proper public notice period before implementing the Energy Policy Act. Federal lawyers support retroactive exemptions for the dam operators. Now the fate of millions of salmon will be determined by Federal District Judge Marsha Pechman.
Source: American Rivers, www.americanrivers.org