McMorris Rodgers Helps Lead Bill to Protect Four Lower Snake River Dams, Energy Production in the Pacific Northwest

Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA-04), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) today introduced legislation to protect the four Lower Snake River dams. Specifically, the Federal Columbia River Power System Certainty Act supports the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) and the many benefits it brings to the region by improving and maintaining hydropower assets, ensuring operations throughout the system are conducted in accordance with the latest federal scientific review, and continuing to allow native salmon to recover at record rates.

“Calling for the removal of the four Lower Snake River dams after three straight years of improved salmon returns is misguided. What’s alarming is trying to breach them at a time when families in Eastern Washington are paying record-high energy costs just to keep the lights on this summer,” said Rodgers. “We know that salmon can–and do–co-exist, and it’s time we focus on results. While Governor Inslee and Senator Murray forge ahead with their political agenda, we will continue to promote real solutions to reduce carbon emissions, drive down energy costs, and help recover endangered salmon.”

This legislation comes just days after President Biden made a Declaration of Emergency stating that a current emergency exists “with respect to the threats to the availability of sufficient electricity generation capacity to meet expected customer demand.” Meanwhile, Democrats continue to push their rush-to-green agenda that will put Washington at risk of devastating blackouts in the coming months.

“The science is crystal clear: breaching the Four Lower Snake River Dams would be harmful to our communities, our environment, and our economy,” said Newhouse. “Amidst a national energy crisis, it is unconscionable that dam-breaching advocates—including Governor Inslee and Senator Murray—would attempt to force a predetermined, unscientific conclusion that will put our communities who are already struggling at risk. In the Pacific Northwest, we depend on this critical infrastructure for clean, renewable, and affordable energy, as well as flood control, navigation, irrigation, agriculture, and recreation benefits. This legislation utilizes the best available science to further ensure the Lower Snake River Dams continue to provide carbon-free, baseload energy while continuing to support fish recovery efforts.” 

The Federal Columbia River Power System Certainty Act directs the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) to be operated in alignment with the 2020 “Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision.” This legislation is endorsed by Inland Ports and Navigation Group (IPNG), Tri-Cities Development Council (TRIDEC), United Power Trades Organization, WA Wheat Growers, Washington Grain Commission, Washington Farm Bureau, and Idaho Farm Bureau.

“As the 2020 Environmental Impact Statement concluded, it’s indeed possible to balance the health of our native fish runs while also protecting the clean, affordable, hydropower and many economic benefits provided by dams on the Columbia River system,” said Herrera Beutler. “I’m pleased to lend my support to this legislation which ensures we’re relying on science to manage our river systems to benefit our precious salmon species and our residents.”

The lawmakers were joined in introducing this legislation by Representatives Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Pete Stauber (MN-08), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), Matt Rosendale (MT-AL), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02)

CLICK HERE to read the full text of the bill.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS:

  • In September 2020, the “Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision” for the Columbia River System Operation Environmental Impact Statement (CRSO EIS)–published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration–found that the Lower Snake River dams should not be breached. Rather, efforts should be focused on improving and maintaining hydropower assets while working to improve salmon passage and conditions.
  • In May 2021, Governor Inslee and Senator Murray publicly rebuke plans to breach Lower Snake River Dams.
  • On October 15, 2021, Gov. Inslee and Sen. Murray announce plans to assess the breaching of the Lower Snake River dams. You can read Cathy’s response here.
  • On October 21, 2021, Department of Justice announces a settlement reached between the CRSO EIS plaintiffs and federal agencies on injunctive relief, including a stay on the CRSO EIS litigation until July 2022.
  • On October 22, 2021, Gov. Inslee and Sen. Murray announce next steps to deliver a report on replacing the benefits of the Lower Snake River by July 2022. You can read Cathy’s response here.

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