McMorris Rodgers: Democrats’ Plan to Study Dam Breaching is ‘Nothing More Than a Political Stunt’

Washington, D.C. (October 15, 2021) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today released the following statement in response to Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray’s plan to assess the breaching of the Lower Snake River dams:

“Governor Inslee and Senator Murray’s new plan to assess breaching the four Lower Snake River dams appears to be nothing more than a political stunt designed to help fabricate results that support the narrative and goals of radical environmental groups.

“We have assessments. Ask Washington farmers about the role dams play in agricultural productivity and river users about the impact breaching would have on road safety and carbon emissions. Talk to the families that relied on the dams for electricity during extreme weather this year. Or the experts at the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration, which have already spent $40 million analyzing the dams and what it would take to replace their power generation capacity as part of the Columbia Snake River System EIS. We know that without the renewable, readily deployable hydropower the dams provide, we would not have the operational flexibility that is required to meet energy demand during times of system stress, and our communities would pay the price.

“For too long, those laser-focused on ripping out the dams have relied on fear-mongering and flashy PR campaigns to distort reality. The simple truth is that we’re well past the year 2017, and salmon are not extinct. Contrary to their prediction, Chinook returns on the Lower Snake are up for the second year in a row. Mitigation measures on the Columbia-Snake River System are working. Yes, there is still work to be done. But to reject the Lower Snake River dams, renewable hydropower, and the sustainable transport of goods as part of the solution is to deny reality.

“I know habitat restoration, predator management, advanced fish passage technology, and a better understanding of ocean indicators do not make good fodder for feature films, but they are the exact topics that should be at the center of our discussions. I invite anyone who shares my goal of recovering salmon to join me at the results table.”

NOTE: On Thursday, Governor Inslee told a group of environmentalists that he and Senator Murray are exploring options to breach the Lower Snake River dams by working on “a rigorous, robust, and fast assessment of how to replace [hydropower, transportation, and irrigation] services if we breach those dams.” This is a major policy reversal from just five months ago when the Washington lawmakers publicly rejected this idea.

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