Will Taxpayers Bail Out Salmon Killers?
|April 10, 2002||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Incredible Corruption, Or Incredible Stupidity?
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
A FISHY DEAL The federal government dished out more than $500 million in credits to a federal agency for salmon recovery that was never done.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) markets federal government electricity in the Pacific Northwest. Under the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Act, BPA is required to treat salmon on par with energy. In return, the government reimburses BPA with repayment credits for a share of lost money due to water used for salmon recovery efforts.
This year, however, BPA wants to use more than $500 million of its federal credits to repay over 80 percent of its annual treasury loan payment. The agency is also trying to borrow an extra $2 billion from federal taxpayers without clear definition of what the money would be for. The problem is that the agency did next to nothing to protect salmon this year.
BPA avoided salmon recovery efforts by declaring a financial emergency allowing them to use water to produce more power. A portion of that water is supposed to be spilled over the dams on the Columbia River system to help salmon migrate. As a result of the BPA spilling very little water this year, millions of juvenile salmon that are essential to replenishing salmon populations did not survive.
A congressional appropriations committee turned down the agency’s request for increased borrowing authority and both houses of Congress passed the energy and water spending bill without that provision. The agency’s request for the increase resulted from poor fiscal management and special deals to the aluminum industry.
BPA signed agreements to provide 11,500 megawatts of power despite only having the capacity to provide 8,500 megawatts. Instead of instituting an announced substantial rate increase and ending the sweetheart deals with aluminum companies, the agency chose a smaller increase and largely ignored the salmon.
To meet the promised energy deliveries, BPA had to buy power, at sky-high prices, back from the aluminum companies. The $2 billion that the agency tried to borrow is about the same amount as the profit aluminum companies made from reselling power to BPA.
The value of the credits which Bonneville Power Administration is receiving demands stricter scrutiny from Congress. The agency did little to help salmon, yet it received hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded credits as a reimbursement for protecting salmon. BPA must follow the spirit and letter of the law and do much more to protect salmon in return for the credits they have received. Taxpayers should not be forced to bail out this fiscally irresponsible agency.
If you would like more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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