President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday evening took a Pacific Northwest turn when one of the president's lighthearted explanations included a jab at a regulatory issue over the region's endangered salmon. "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in salt water," he said, adding, "And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

Not funny, according to local environmental group Earthjustice. In The New York Times today, Earthjustice claims that the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service "exclusively runs the show" when it comes to salmon regulation. Apparently streamlining the regulatory structure dealing with salmon isn't the best way to bring endangered salmon back to the region.
[Seattle Earthjustice attorney Todd] True added that Earthjustice agrees with the need to streamline oversight but argued the best means to accomplish that "would be to make sure the money we spend to restore salmon is guided by the best science and the best scientists."

"Right now, salmon are in trouble up and down the West Coast because political science has trumped biological science," True said. "All of the government agencies are too focused on protecting powerful economic interests instead of taking the steps we need to take to bring salmon back."

True also added that he was in the dark as to what agency regulates smoked salmon.
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