Appeals court declines to reconsider salmon culverts case

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SEATTLE (AP) – A federal appeals court has declined to reconsider a ruling that Washington state says will require it to pay nearly $2 billion on salmon habitat.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year affirmed a lower court’s 2013 ruling ordering the state to fix or replace hundreds of culverts – large pipes that allow streams to pass beneath roads but block migrating salmon.

Idaho and Montana joined Washington state in asking the appeals court to reconsider the case. The court declined to do so, but several judges dissented from that decision, saying it should be reconsidered because of its significance.

The tribes, backed by the U.S. Justice Department, sued Washington in 2001 to force it to replace the culverts with structures that better allow fish to pass.