Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today released the following statement after President Biden mixed up his river systems, saying at the White House Conservation in Action Summit that he looks forward to working with anti-dam members of the Pacific Northwest Congressional delegation to “bring healthy and abundant salmon runs back to the Colorado River System.” Click here to watch the video.
“I’ve said time and time again that I share the goal of restoring healthy salmon runs to the entire Columbia River System. This requires a transparent process and honest conversation, yet all we’ve gotten from the Biden administration are political appointees running closed door meetings and pushing an agenda that is not based on science or results.
“What the president may not realize is that he tipped his hand today and pulled back the curtain on these ‘confidential’ conversations. He may as well have just said he supports dam breaching. The president’s comments underscore his complete lack of understanding of the Columbia River System and the catastrophic implications dam removal would have on communities across Eastern Washington.
“If the president actually wants to recover salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest, then I suggest he hold a few less closed door meetings and figure out which river system we are talking about – and it’s not the Colorado. Once he does that, then we can start working together in a collaborative way that follows facts, not feelings.”
NOTE: President Biden delivered his remarks ahead of a Breakout Session called, “Supporting and Expanding Tribal Co-Stewardship Efforts,” which is closed to the press. Plaintiffs from National Wildlife Federation et al. v National Marine Fisheries Service et al. – the lawsuit over the 2020 Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement and Biological Opinion – were invited to attend the event.
For years, Senator Murray has served as Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s partner in calling for the breaching of the four Lower Snake River dams. Together, they have wasted tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on study after study only to conclude what we’ve known all along: breaching the dams and replacing the benefits they provide would cost up to $27 billion.
At the same time, Congressman Simpson released a flawed proposal that included breaching the Lower Snake River dams to the tune of $33 billion with no guarantee of better salmon returns. Not to mention, the Lower Snake River dams have a 95% fish passage rate, so they are not the greatest threat to fish survival. Ocean conditions, rising carbon emissions, predation, and habitat loss are. These dangers to fish populations would only be worsened by removing the dams, which is why the focus must be on solutions that can deliver real results, like cleaning up the Puget Sound and restoring salmon runs there.