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July 17th, 2007
Cheney Asked to Explain His Role in Klamath Salmon Kill Before Natural Resources Hearing

Washington, D.C. – Vice President Dick Cheney has been asked to testify at a July 31 House Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing on his apparent role in influencing scientific and policy decisions at the Department of the Interior.

A former Member of the Committee, Cheney’s intervention in the development of a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River, that courts later called arbitrary and in violation of the Endangered Species Act, resulted in the 2002 die-off of an estimated 77,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border. This led to the subsequent collapse of the West Coast salmon-fishing industry as reported in The Washington Post on June 27, 2007.

Such political maneuvering is a possible violation of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political action while on the job.

“The Klamath incident was only one of many anti-environmental misdeeds Mr. Cheney underhandedly directed, from easing air pollution controls to reopening the national forests to logging, mining and other development, said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. “This is nothing less than environmental vandalism and this Administration must be held accountable.”

This comes as several groups, such as Save Our Wild Salmon, are conducting public outreach tours this summer to raise awareness of endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.

The hearing will seek to examine the causes and consequences of political intervention in the decision-making process at the Interior Department, an alarming trend the Committee began exploring at a May 9 hearing that delved into the role of the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in politicizing the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

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