The Accountability Project
NW Power Act Initiative

The law locks up both man and woman
Who steal the goose from off the common
But lets the greater felon loose
Who steals the common from the goose

The Problem   for more  

Wild Snake River salmon and steelhead are a unique evolutionary heritage tens of millions of years old. Once numbering in millions of adult fish annually, they are threatened with extinction on our watch.

The cascade of ongoing adverse environmental, economic, social, and cultural consequences is a tragedy of epic proportions. It is the direct result of an egregious failure of governance.

The public has been betrayed by compromised elected officials, failed public institutions, and allied enablers that feed off the deaths of wild Snake River salmon and dependent economies. They collaborate to evade the will of the Nation, the rule of law, and the discipline of the market.

The Project

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis held that "sunlight is the best of disinfectants" for failure of governance and failure of the market.

The Accountability Project puts "sunlight" on failed public institutions and allied apologists for extinction of wild Snake River salmon and steelhead whose future existence now hangs precariously in the balance.

NW Power Act Initiative

The Northwest Power Act became law December 5, 1980. It contained strong provisions intended to restore Columbia/Snake River salmon and steelhead devastated by the Army Corps of Engineers' negligent failure to design its dams to pass fish as Congress intended in authorizing their construction.

The act established a regional council composed of two governor-appointed members from Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. The council's principal mandate was to specify changes in the dams necessary to restore decimated salmon and steelhead runs, then to specify measures necessary to mitigate the expected loss of electrical energy. The act gave Bonneville Power Administration new authority to acquire additional resources to accomplish the latter.

It would have been easy. It never happened. There was an epic failure of governance and of the rule of law.

Thirty years and many hundreds of millions of public dollars later, the Northwest is reaping the ecological, economic and social whirlwind of that failure.

Snake River salmon and steelhead are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Government has been corrupted. People throughout the region are pitted against one another in internecine conflict. Federal courts inexorably have been drawn into the fray.

This Accountability Project initiative will document the disconnect between the mandates of the Northwest Power Act and the results a third of a century later. It will document the factors contributing to that disparity. It will propose remedies for this calamitous failure of governance and betrayal of the public trust.

For more information and/or to support this Accountability Project initiative.
The plight of Snake River salmon was the impetus for founding NRIC 34 years ago. Over the intervening years NRIC has relentlessly championed wild Snake River salmon and dependent economies at local, state, regional, and national levels. NRIC filed path-breaking lawsuits. Produced innumerable reports and articles. Recruited public and political support for salmon-protective policies and regulations. Recruited more champions; initiated the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition.