During the last week of July, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he was suspending work on passing climate change legislation for the summer. TU is disappointed that Congress could not get a good bill passed this summer. Instead, the Senate will soon take up a much smaller package of energy and natural resource measures. TU will remain steadfast in urging Congress to pass a bill that will take a strong step towards building an energy future which minimizes impacts to trout and salmon.
Trout and salmon need cold, clean, abundant water supplies. Climate change is impacting water resources and aquatic habitats, and as an organization dedicated to conserving our nation’s coldwater fisheries, TU has been urging Congress to address this crucial issue. TU and many of our allied conservation organizations have worked for several years on the task and have made considerable progress.
TU believes that the best way to protect coldwater fisheries from climate change is through a two- pronged approach: reducing emissions to get at the heart of the problem and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, while investing in protecting and restoring habitats so that coldwater fisheries can withstand impacts. The House-passed climate change legislation achieved these two goals, and a number of the Senate bills had strong features. In particular, adaptation funding for habitat protection and restoration received broad and sustained support throughout the process. TU salutes the members of the House and Senate who supported strong bills.
Trout and salmon are remarkably resilient. If the habitats that they depend on are healthy, they can persist. TU has developed an integrated, landscape-scale strategy strengthen resiliency. First, protect the highest quality habitats. Second, reconnect protected areas to surrounding habitats. Third, restore habitats where restorative actions will most benefit trout and salmon. The core of this strategy is to work with state and federal agencies, conservation partners, and others to help rebuild the natural resilience of the watersheds that trout and salmon depend on so they are better able to withstand the predicted effects of a changing climate. The good news today is that TU will continue its work around the nation to build on this natural resilience.
Trout conservationists are resilient too. TU will continue to work hard on the ground, and in Congress, to rise to the challenge posed by climate change. Passing strong legislation can take a long time. TU worked with its conservation allies to for years to convince Congress pass a new Clean Air Act to dramatically cut acid rain emissions in 1990. We worked for years to remove the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine. In coming years, dams on the Elwha and Klamath Rivers will be removed because of the work sustained over decades. Nothing good comes easy or quick.