McMorris Rodgers: Eastern Washington is Showing America What’s Possible

Western Caucus Members, Industry Leaders Highlight Importance of Hydropower to Rural Communities

Jun 23, 2023
Clean Energy
Press

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) delivered opening remarks at a Western Caucus forum titled, “The Importance of Hydropower for Rural Communities.” She emphasized how hydropower has strengthened Eastern Washington’s energy grid, lowered energy costs for families and businesses, and transformed the entire region. 

Cathy and her colleagues also heard from industry experts and organizations who highlighted the importance of the Lower Snake River dams and how the Biden administration is working to remove this leading source of clean, reliable, affordable, and renewable power from the Pacific Northwest. Witnesses who participated included:

  • Scott Simms, CEO of Public Power Council
  • Jim Horan, Executive Director of Mid-West Electric Consumers Association
  • Ryan Holterhoff, Senior Policy Analyst of Grant County PUD
  • Brian Edwards, Executive Vice President of Grand River Dam Authority
  • Chandler Goule, CEO of National Association of Wheat Growers

Below are excerpts and highlights from Cathy’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

ENERGY IS FOUNDATIONAL

“Good afternoon, and welcome to the Congressional Western Caucus Forum titled: “The Importance of Hydropower to Rural Communities.” 

“Chairman Newhouse is working on our FY24 Appropriations bills right now, so I’m honored to be here to kick things off. I’d like to welcome my friends and colleagues – House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries Chair Cliff Bentz and Congressman Fulcher.

“I’d also like to thank our witnesses for making the time to be here today to discuss the importance of hydropower. I know you all have busy schedules. I look forward to today’s conversation, because it’s hard to think of an issue more important to the American people today. 

“Energy is foundational. It powers our homes and keeps us moving.

“Hydropower is especially critical for a secure, affordable, and clean energy future.”

HYDROPOWER IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

“In Eastern Washington, we are leading the way and showing the rest of America what’s possible when we unleash the potential of hydropower.

“The Columbia-Snake River System serves as the beating heart of our region.

“It helped transform our region from a dry, barren sagebrush to one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. As a result, farmers in the Pacific Northwest are able to send their products – wheat, apples, potatoes – all across America and to countries around the world. 

“It’s strengthened our energy grid, lowered energy costs for families and businesses, and transformed our entire region – all while reducing carbon emissions.

“Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way. Dam breaching advocates like President Biden, Governor Inslee, and Senator Murray want to tear out the Lower Snake River dams.

“This would be devastating to our region. It would send energy costs through the roof, put our communities at risk of dangerous blackouts, and make it impossible for our farmers to feed the world.

“This is the wrong approach. I believe our hydropower model is worth expanding.”

HYDROPOWER CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE ACT

“That’s why just last week, I introduced the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act to reform the outdated licensing process and promote the innovation needed to usher in the next generation of hydro technology.

“Why is this so important?

“Today, only 3 percent of dams in America produce electricity. By leveraging this untapped potential for more hydropower energy, we could double hydropower production in the United States without building a single new dam!

“This legislation will help us get there by removing barriers and rapidly expanding hydropower development.”

SECURING OUR ENERGY FUTURE TOGETHER 

“America has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and we are among the best stewards of them in the world. 

“It’s critical that we foster these resources so families and businesses have access to reliable, affordable, clean energy. 

“It powers our way of life and is foundational for human prosperity and flourishing.

“I’m grateful to our witnesses for being here today, and I look forward to hearing from you about how we can secure our energy future together.”

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