John Snyder

John Snyder

Lawyers don’t give a damn about dams. Unless, of course, they sue the federal government for a living or they have a political agenda.

Lawyers who sue the federal government to breach the dams on the Columbia/Snake River system are part of the problem addressed by Rep. Simpson’s Columbia Basin Initiative. Whereas the actions of a lawyer with a political agenda are a threat to the future of Idaho and the Greater Northwest.

Bryan Smith’s latest ad hominem attack on Rep. Simpson and his Columbia Basin Initiative reaches a new low in Idaho Republican politics.

His innuendos and insinuations are based on information disclosed in a press release by Congressional Reps. Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.

That information came from a Freedom of Information Act request made by an environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, whose livelihood is threatened by Simpson’s proposal. In 2018, the Center for Biological Diversity received over $18 million in donations and almost $2 million in litigation awards and settlements.

Center for Biological Diversity uses the Endangered Species Act as a tool to “undo the dominion of man over animals and plants … the only way to get to the desired state is to deconstruct stuff that exists in the world: legal arrangements, social and economic forms, and even physical structures,” according to a 1999 story about the founding of Center for Biological Diversity in The New Yorker magazine.

Center for Biological Diversity is not above manufacturing fraudulent evidence in their efforts to “deconstruct stuff.” An Arizona rancher was awarded $600,000 in a libel suit against the Center for Biological Diversity, whose appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court was denied in 2007. Center for Biological Diversity “has never apologized and is totally unrepentant for maliciously lying about Jim Chilton” according to a 2019 statement by the Southwest Communities Coalition.

It is troubling that two respected congressional representatives from Washington took Center for Biological Diversity’s bait and used their FOIA disclosure to impugn Rep. Simpson’s integrity.

Why does Smith then quote liberally from the press release for his ad hominem attack on Simpson? And why does Smith repeat his attack on Simpson in a column for the Idaho State Journal?

It begs the question about his political agenda in attacking Simpson rather than addressing the merits of Simpson’s Columbia Basin Initiative.

Smith states, “After listing many well-thought-out reasons to oppose Simpson’s risky plan,” the Idaho state Republican Party passed a resolution of no confidence in Simpson. The resolution is not public as of this writing, so Smith doesn’t have to defend his statement that the reasons were well thought out.

As I explained in another column, many of Smith’s earlier claims about the value to Idaho of the lower Snake River dams, and similar claims in Idaho State Joint Memorandum 103, were myths and half-truths. Therefore, I’m not willing to accept at face value Smith’s claims that the “no confidence” resolution is based on defensible reasons.

If lawyers don’t give a damn about dams, why is Smith suddenly such a staunch defender? And why do I suggest his actions are a threat to Idaho and the future of the Northwest? Because his actions undermine serious discussion of the very real issues addressed in Simpson’s initiative. These discussions are possible because of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure initiative.

This is not some nefarious liberal plot cooked up by Rep. Simpson and Gov. Brown of Oregon as insinuated by Smith, Newhouse, Rogers and the Center for Biological Diversity. It is a tactical move by an ethical, pragmatic Idaho statesman whose only interests are in the future of Idaho and the Northwest.

John R. Snyder, Ph.D., is a retired commercialization manager for Idaho National Laboratory.