The Fish Passage Center, a relentless opponent of transporting fish downriver in barges, and a leading propagandist against the Snake River Dams, has just posted a "Draft Comparative Survival Rate Study (CSS) of Hatchery PIT Tagged Chinook", conducted under contract to the Bonneville Power Administration. The study was requested by state and tribal fish managers who do not credit repeated studies by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that have always shown substantial benefits to smolt transportation.
NMFS released test and control groups at Lower Granite Dam; the fish managers wanted to tag and release fish at the hatcheries. One vice of their approach is that half the test subjects die on the way to Lower Granite Dams in the natural but lethal Snake River; specifically, survival of the test groups ranged from 38% to 84%. That means you have to tag lots more fish. (The fish managers have repeatedly refused researchers permission to test survival at dams because fish would have to be tagged, but, after all, those were someone else's studies . . .)
The worse vice of their approach is that you don't really know how many fish are in the control group, because not all the tags are detected when the control fish swim by the dams (as compared to fish going into the barges, where all the tags are detected). That means you have to use the old fishery manager favorite, assumptions, to estimate the size of the control groups.
The 1996 outgoing migrants have now had a chance to return as two and three-year-olds, and preliminary data is available for the 1997 and 1998 outmigrants as well. The results? They are not in the study, because the results are probably not statistically significant. But the preliminary data, even using the FPC assumptions, is that transportation improved survival of 1996 outmigrants by 66%, 1997 outmigrants by 47%, and 1998 outmigrants by 64%. Transportation doesn't seem to produce a 100% increase in survival like it used to, but in-river survivals are much higher now, and there are still a lot of test subjects to come back.
The most remarkable part of the study is the observation that "current survival-to-adult rates to the lower Columbia River hatcheries chosen for use in the CSS appear to be no better and may be worse than the survival-to-adult rates of the upriver hatcheries for smolts that migrated in 1996 to 1998". Unfortunately, this data is not presented, so we could all know just how much worse survival is for those downriver hatcheries.
Astute readers may recall that the cornerstone of the "scientific" case made by PATH and others against the dams was an upriver/downriver comparison. That was never very meaningful, because no one knows if upriver and downriver stocks face the same ocean survivals, which would have to be true for the comparison to be meaningful. But using fishery manager logic, dams must have been having positive effects on salmon in recent years, because the more dams the salmon have to go by to get back to their hatcheries, the more salmon we get.
In short, the "scientific" case for dam breaching continues to collapse. Perhaps that's why Brigadier General Strock, according to an article in The Oregonian, has just declared that if the science doesn't clearly support dam breaching, maybe the Corps of Engineers will just decide to take out the dams based on the recent popularity contests held around the region.
One of the benefits of giving speeches is that you meet all kinds of interesting people. One of them took an hour and a half the other day to educate me about recent developments in international environmental law. Everyone knows that treaties can be the law of the land, and that the Senate has to ratify them. But more action goes on with a host of little-known international organizations and international "agreements", such as the "Convention on Biological Diversity" signed by President Clinton in 1993, and not ratified by the Senate.
Defenders of the Constitution worry that Executive agreements like these can displace federal law. There are a few worrisome Supreme Court cases, like United States v. Pink (1942), which are often cited by those who seek to make the sovereignty of the United States subordinate to international authorities. But it will take a lot more Supreme Court appointments before Presidential agreements can trump Congressional statutes.
It seems clear, however, that a highly-active shadow international government is developing with strong influence on federal policy, at least when the international directives and the Congressional ones are not inherently inconsistent. For example, the World Conservation Union, or IUCN, has more than 1,000 staffers all over the world working "to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable". The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the parent of NMFS, is a member, along with several other federal agencies and numerous nonprofits. This is not just some club for scientists. NOAA's official delegate to the IUCN is the Undersecretary of Commerce, Jim Baker.
IUCN has caused another agency, the World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC), to compile a list of "protected areas" all over the world, including most of the national forests in the Pacific Northwest. Most of the National Forests are "Category VI" areas. They are supposed to be "managed to ensure long term protection and maintenance of biological diversity" with a "sustainable flow of natural products and services".
Members of IUCN, including the U.S. Forest Service, are supposed to advocate IUCN's policies, and implement its programs. For the moment, the policies are all vague. There is nothing necessarily sinister about them. U.S. law is vague too. U.S. officials have enormous discretion in interpreting laws for the management of natural resources.
It seems clear, though, that U.S. officials are now taking what is at best advice, and at worst direction, from international organizations on how to exercise their discretion in managing U.S. natural resources. As usual, the Clinton/Gore Administration is violating at least one law that forbids this: the Federal Advisory Committee Act. That Act requires that agencies taking advice from committees make sure those committees are balanced, and do full public disclosure of what is going on.
There is a also a good case to be made that the Constitution's prohibition of federal officials from accepting any "Emolument, Office or Title, of any kind whatsoever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State" ("without the Consent of the Congress") was intended to prevent precisely the type of dual loyalties and potential conflicts of interest that could arise in this context. Of course, the Founders didn't have the foresight to say "United Nations", so as Gore would say, perhaps there is no "controlling legal authority".
Are government officials actually out implementing international directives? I don't know. The federal government is filing a lot of reports with the United Nations that make it look that way, which are usefully summarized in a U.N. webpage called "Natural Resource Aspects of Sustainable Development in the United States of America". If you take the time to read through this document, you'll find that practically every bone-headed federal initiative to supercede state and local authority seems to have international roots.
Closer to home, I noticed that one of the resolutions of the 1996 World Conservation Congress says that IUCN member states should make it a "high priority to undertake and complete scientifically sound studies of the effectiveness of multi-species management". Suddenly millions of dollars appeared to fund the Northwest Power Planning Council's "Multi-Species Framework" process, producing more environmentalist propaganda masquerading as science. Why? Who knows? There was no public discussion or debate. It just happened.
One objective of Agenda 21, characterized as an "agreement" reached under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), declares: "Land resources are used for a variety of purposes which interact and may compete with one another; therefore, it is desirable to plan and manage all uses in an integrated manner." The underlying point of view of the internationalists seems to be that freedom and property rights are subordinate to the authority of the state to manage for the greatest good. Freedom and property rights are just something to be "taken account of" in making the master plan. When push comes to shove, the plan will make "an allocation of land to the uses that provide the greatest sustainable benefits", whether the owners like it or not.
My personal view is that we once again have a bunch of watermelons here: green on the outside and red on the inside. Agenda 21 goes far beyond mere environmentalism to embrace all the usual politically-correct causes.
But you don't have to see communists under every bed to worry about these developments. If you think citizens have enough trouble controlling state governments, and that almost nothing can be accomplished on the national level, imagine dealing with an international bureaucracy. You ain't seen nothing yet. It's a sure way for gumming up economic development--one that's worked so well for the Third World.
We don't need international central planning for land use. We've got enough layers of government messing around with land management as it is. Why should we take taxes out of the pockets of hard-working Americans to send bureaucrats all over the world for marching orders? Haven't we got better things to do with our money? Why do we keep electing politicians who shovel our money down these ratholes?
We have a new international elite crafting plans for the world at taxpayer expense. And because they skim only a little bit of money out of each country, nobody ever notices just how big these things are getting. But don't worry. I'm sure the Clinton/Gore Administration has everything under control.
© James Buchal, March 24, 2000
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