The Columbia River System completely transformed Eastern Washington from dry, barren sagebrush into one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. The four Lower Snake River dams are critical infrastructure that provide irreplaceable barging and irrigation benefits to help our farmers feed the world. They also have the capacity to generate nearly 3,000 megawatts of clean, reliable baseload energy to keep the lights on and power our way of life.
Unfortunately, a group of unelected White House bureaucrats think they know better than the people whose lives depend on the dams. For more than two years, they have operated in the dark and colluded with a select group of radical environmentalists to develop a secret “package of actions and commitments” that bypass Congress and spend more than $1 BILLION to tear out our dams.
Transparency in this process is long overdue, which is why I brought the Biden administration officials who negotiated this backroom deal in front of the Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing with a few of the stakeholders they ignored throughout this process. Watch my opening statement here:
The Biden administration wants it both ways—they try to hide behind the fact that only Congress has the ability to change the operation of the Lower Snake River dams, while at the same time, making commitments on behalf of Congress that put us on a path toward breaching the dams. Click below to watch the hypocrisy for yourself:
The admissions were stunning.
White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory finally acknowledged that she ignored thousands of stakeholders and residents who opposed dam breaching throughout this process.
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) CEO John Hairston confirmed that Eastern Washington electricity costs would go up if the dams were breached.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Janet Coit agreed that their “healthy and abundant” salmon goal, which was used by CEQ to justify dam breaching, has no basis in law. She also failed to explain why Snake River dams are being targeted when they have seen some of the most promising returns in the Pacific Northwest, while Puget Sound runs continue to decline.
The truth is this process was never about getting results for endangered salmon. If it was, we would be working together on the real issues facing Pacific Northwest salmon, including predatory sea lions, poor ocean conditions, and habitat destruction. Instead, the administration would rather come after the dams, which have best-in-class fish passage technology that makes them nearly invisible to fish.
Let me be clear: The target on our dams is purely political. It’s driven by an activist agenda without concern for sound science or the consequences that dam breaching would have for farmers, business owners, and families in Eastern Washington. Witnesses from our second panel laid out the consequences very clearly. Check it out:
The truth is the devastation dam breaching would cause is not theoretical. Just this month, a cold snap hit the Pacific Northwest. When the wind stopped blowing and the sun stopped shining, the Snake River dams were there to provide a power surge to keep the lights on. They even bail out states like California – champion of the world’s largest dam removal project – when their energy grid is stretched too thin and they need a power surge to avoid rolling blackouts.
The sooner we accept that the dams are not the problem and breaching them is not the solution, the sooner we can work together to achieve our shared goal of recovering endangered salmon.
If you’d like to learn more about my work to protect the Lower Snake River dams and unleash hydropower across America, check out these links:
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