If Government Fails to Keep Treaty, You Must Pay
Taxpayers for Common Sense is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending. Here is their latest news update.
Salmon Extinction Could Cost Billions
The American taxpayer may be liable for up to tens of billions of dollars because the federal government has failed to stop salmon extinction on the Lower Snake River.
Treaties signed more than a century ago with Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest obligate the U.S. Government to protect the salmon. But four dams on the Lower Snake River have pushed all species of this river's salmon onto the endangered species list, leaving the potential for tribes to sue for damages.
In the 1850s, officials from the U.S. Government went to what is now the Northwest with the agenda of acquiring land to pay for the country's increasing debts.
Tribes ceded millions of acres in exchange for provisions to protect their fishing rights and ensure their cultural way of life for future generations. To the tribes, salmon are essential for nutrition, trade and religious services.
What was once the most plentiful salmon tributary in the world, however, has been reduced to a stream for extinct and endangered fish under the government's development.
How big is the risk to taxpayers? Experts estimate that it could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. One estimate calculates the value of the land given by the tribes to the U.S. that is twice the size of Delaware. Another estimate uses the value of fish lost to the Tribes since the dams were constructed.
The reality of a major lawsuit grows as legal precedents pile up. For instance, earlier this year, the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho were awarded $39 million for lost fishing rights due to two dams in the Clearwater River drainage. In a 1995 settlement, the Colville Tribes in Washington State were awarded $15 million per year for lost fishing rights due to a large dam on the Columbia River for as long as the dam operates.
American taxpayers would pay up to tens of billions of dollars and Native Americans would be robbed of traditions essential to their heritage and culture should salmon continue to decline. Yet as salmon extinction looms and potential lawsuits threaten to drain the federal treasury, scientists say there is still time to advert costly outcomes.
The removal of the four Lower Snake River dams would allow dwindling populations of salmon to stage a comeback and lead to the restoration of fishing rights that are essential to Native American culture. The removal of these four federal dams will reduce taxpayer liability, while fulfilling promises our country has made.
For more information contact Beth Chasnoff at 202 546-8500 ext.128 or firstname.lastname@example.org TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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