Washington, D.C. – Earlier today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a draft report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommending at least one Lower Snake River dam be breached in order to recover endangered salmon, as well as an analysis commissioned by the Bonneville Power Administration outlining the scenarios under which the power benefits of the four dams could be replaced.
In response, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), along with Representatives Dan Newhouse (WA-03), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), and Matt Rosendale (MT-AL), released the following joint statement:
“Today’s release of two reports from the Biden administration’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) confirms what we have suspected for some time—they are cherry picking points to justify breaching the Lower Snake River Dams, which will permanently and negatively impact our way of life in the Pacific Northwest.
“It appears that the Biden administration’s CEQ has been working behind closed doors with plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit over the CRSO EIS, as explicitly stated in the first footnote of this draft ‘report,’ all while promoting a supposedly open and transparent stakeholder listening process meant to develop a regional solution for salmon and the river system. This is underhanded and completely unacceptable.
“The Biden administration just last month issued a Declaration of Emergency stating that a current emergency exists ‘with respect to the threats of the availability of sufficient electricity generation capacity to meet expected customer demand.’ Today, with the release of these draft reports, one thing is clear: the Biden administration is talking a big game on carbon goals while simultaneously engaging in actions to undermine valuable clean, affordable, and renewable power resources on the Columbia River System, thus compromising energy stability across the region.
“As the members of Congress representing the range of stakeholders engaged in recovering endangered salmon and preserving the Columbia River power system, we must point out the reality that the draft report by NOAA, FWS, Nez Perce Tribe, and State of Oregon fails to acknowledge that salmon returns on the Lower Snake River have shown encouraging gains since 2019. In fact, this year, Spring Chinook returns are more than double last year and 31% above the 10-year average. We urge this administration to consider the facts, prioritize transparency, and utilize sound science and input from all tribes, industry groups, and the ratepayers themselves before coming to an outcome in any final report that would be catastrophic to the communities we represent.”
NOTE: In March, Cathy led her colleagues from the Pacific Northwest in demanding answers from ten federal agencies involved in the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)’s exploration of plans to breach the Lower Snake River dams.
The series of letters pressed CEQ for answers on their current stakeholder engagement sessions and asked federal agencies that have a stake in Lower Snake River dam operations about their role in CEQ’s process. The letters also call into question CEQ’s focus on the four species of fish that pass through the Lower Snake River Dams over the 13 species that are threatened or endangered across the Columbia River Basin.
CLICK HERE to read the letters.
In June, she introduced the Federal Columbia River Power System Certainty Act to protect the four Lower Snake River dams. The legislation 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.
CLICK HERE to read the bill.