The most powerful person in the Pacific Northwest this afternoon isn’t Washington Governor Christine Gregoire or Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski. It’s U.S. District Judge James Redden, who hears legal arguments today in Portland over the federal government’s latest plan to save endangered salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers. Redden has rejected the last two recovery plans, after finding they failed to rely on the best available science. The Oregonian breaks down Redden’s options and reports that most insiders believe the judge will again reject the plan and require the parties to accept a design of his own making. Redden’s decision, which could mandate tearing down the four dams on the lower Snake River, is expected to affect everything from residential power bills to the amount of water available for farmers and boaters.
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