Idaho Water Coalition likes Redden's replacement in salmon-dam case

U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon has a new set of fans even before he made his first ruling in the Columbia-Snake salmon and dam lawsuits the Coalition for Idaho Water.

This group of 65 organizations representing Idaho counties, cities, chambers of commerce, industrial, municipal and commercial water users, and agricultural groups has been working together to protect Idaho water and the Port of Lewiston. That has aligned it and Idaho officials with the federal government, which have repeatedly lost lawsuits before Simon's predecessor, James Redden.

Simon, appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June. Redden decided to back out of the cases where he has ruled three times that the federal biological opinion on the dams is inadequate to meet the federal Endangered Species Act.

The coalition hopes Simon will bring new, "neutral eyes" to the case.

“We are encouraged to see that Judge Simon will now preside over this critical litigation with its profound implications for Idaho, said Travis Jones, chairman of the Coalition. "He appears to bring a strong measure of understanding both of the science involved and of the important issues of state water sovereignty."