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U.S. congressman visits Del Norte

 (The Daily Triplicate/ Bryant Anderson).
(The Daily Triplicate/ Bryant Anderson).

By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

Congressman Mike Thompson (D-California) said investigations into the salmon die-off that killed tens of thousands of salmon in the Klamath River and crippled the local salmon fishing industry are not over.

While visiting Del Norte County Tuesday, Thompson discussed the Klamath as well as other local and national issues while meeting with constituents and local government officials from the area.

He said the hearings involving the Washington Post's report of Vice President Dick Cheney's meddling with scientific process to divert water from the Klamath to farmers in Oregon for political purposes will continue. However, he doesn't expect much in way of repercussions.

"As much as I'd like to see the administration punished—and I'd love to start with Vice President Cheney—more importantly I want them to keep their nose out of this scientific business," said Thompson, who is one of 35 Democrats from California and Oregon that called for a recent hearing by the House Natural Resources Committee into the current administration's manipulation of science. "Hopefully this exposure and oversite hearing will allow these people to work with the scientists and come up with a solution without anybody interfering with that science."

He said the investigation not only involves the Klamath but includes other instances in which the current administration interfered with scientific findings for personal or political gain.

Through legislation, Thompson helped secure over $60 million for those affected by the Klamath salmon kill in Oregon and California, with roughly $30 million going to communities in California.

"I expect California to see that money in the next month," Thompson said at a joint meeting of the Crescent City Council and Del Norte County Board of Supervisors. He also noted that the Klamath River Basin still needs a lot of repair.

"We're still not out of the water—no pun intended—on the Klamath River water diversion," he said.

The money, he said, will be a one-time-only deal, that the overall integrity of the Klamath River will need to be restored through good science, lining the canals and a reducing agriculture on the Klamath.

"There's going to be a reduction of agriculture, there has to be," Thompson said. "The basin is over subscribed so that has to be done."

He said there are willing sellers along the Klamath that could have their farms bought out and turned into land that doesn't need irrigation, which is the original cause of the lower river waters that killed the salmon in the first place.

"I don't ever want to do that again," Thompson said of asking for federal funds to alleviate salmon-kill damages. "I want there to be a healthy salmon population so these guys here can go out and fish and make a good living. And all the ancillary businesses can profit as well."

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As an opponent of the War in Iraq, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-California) says he would like shift the focus of where U.S. troops are deployed in the Middle East.

"I'd start redeploying our troops with the idea that you could probably get them out (of Iraq) by May," Thompson said. "Then I would refocus and redeploy the troops."

Thompson said that after pulling the troops out of Iraq he would use them to fully protect the U.S. homeland from terrorism. Then, he said he would go after the "real terrorists, not just al-Qaida in Iraq," but all al-Qaida and the Taliban. Lastly, Thompson said he would try to contain the civil war in Iraq.

"Militarily," he said, "you can't fix this thing."


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