Implementation of the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act's Fish and Wildlife Provisions

RCED-84-166: Published: Aug 17, 1984. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed implementation of the fish and wildlife provisions of the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act (Northwest Power Act), focusing on: (1) the Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council's funding and staffing for its fish and wildlife activities; (2) criticisms of the Council's water budget, which is the volume of water set aside for anadromous fishes; (3) actions by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to implement the Council's program; (4) BPA funding for new fish and wildlife projects; (5) past and current BPA funding levels for fish and wildlife activities; and (6) other federal and state agencies' funding actions for fish and wildlife activities.

GAO found that the Council's: (1) staffing levels for fish and wildlife activities are adequate but may need to be increased if efforts to implement the Council's program are greater than anticipated; (2) funding for fish and wildlife activities comes from BPA; and (3) fish and wildlife activities have centered on oversight of BPA implementation of the Council's program, coordinating research efforts, and gathering data for a revised fish and wildlife program. GAO also found that: (1) because BPA has not made a comprehensive study to determine what organizational and staffing changes might enhance BPA compliance with the intent of the Northwest Power Act, it could not be determined what resources should be necessary for BPA to carry out its fish and wildlife activities; and (2) BPA funding of fish and wildlife activities has increased each year since 1981. With regard to the Council's water budget, GAO found that, while a committee of local utilities and industrial consumers was concerned that the water budget could be too costly in economic terms, the Council based its water budget decisions on the best available information. In addition, GAO found that: (1) several proposals have been advanced, under which BPA would assume responsibility for the Columbia River Fisheries Development program, which is currently administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service; and (2) while state funding for fish and wildlife activities has increased in three states and remained constant in one, federal funding from sources other than BPA has fluctuated.

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