In addressing the anadromous fisheries resource affected by hydroelectric facilities in the Columbia River Basin, Congress directed that the Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council (Council) balance the values of this resource with the need for an economical electric power supply. The central thesis of this Article is that Congress, in the Northwest Power Act, required that appropriate mitigation measures for the fisheries resource shall be determined by balancing the fisheries values that would be achieved against the costs that would be incurred by electric power consumers. While some commentators have urged that an appropriate balancing does not require such weighing of values and costs, in our view, it is mandatory as a matter of law under the Northwest Power Act. This is clear from the plain language of the statute and from the only reasonable interpretation of the relevant legislative history. Moreover, the Pacific Northwest's declining energy surplus and a generally stabilized fishery in the Columbia River system dictate, as a matter of prudent public policy, a more careful and objective evaluation of the fisheries values to be achieved with the region's increasingly scarce ratepayer dollars. The historical background of the Northwest Power Act places the relevant power and fish interests in the proper context.
Michael B. Early and Egil Krogh, Balancing Power Costs and Fisheries Values Under the Northwest Power Act, 13 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 281 (1990).