WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) with U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) introduced the Northwest Energy Security 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 our 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. This legislation is especially important given Tuesday’s announcement from President Biden about the Columbia and Snake Rivers at the Conservation in Action 2023 Summit.
“A comprehensive, scientific process made clear dam breaching on the lower Snake River is completely unnecessary and unwarranted,” said Risch. “With the Northwest Energy Security Act, Congress will ensure the Columbia River Power System continues to provide reliable and clean energy and supports the region’s transportation, agriculture, and irrigation needs. I remain adamantly opposed to breaching the dams.”
“Breaching dams is the last thing we should be doing," said Daines. "The Columbia River System provides clean, reliable baseload power and we should be supporting and expanding hydropower throughout the United States, not removing affordable energy supply for Montanans.”
“The Four Lower Snake River Dams are integral to flood control, navigation, irrigation, agriculture, and recreation in Central Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest—to put it simply, we cannot afford to lose them,” said Newhouse. “Yet President Biden, Governor Inslee, Senator Murray, and Representative Simpson have been misleading the American people with unscientific information in order to breach these dams, putting our communities at risk. We know the critical infrastructure of the Snake River Dams provides clean, renewable, safe, and affordable energy for our homes and businesses, and the best and latest science affirms we should continue to utilize them. The Northwest Energy Security Act will ensure our dams can continue to provide the carbon-free baseload energy our communities rely on while continuing to support fish recovery efforts.”
“I am growing increasingly concerned about President Biden’s openness to breaching our dams,” said Rodgers. “From his administration’s recommendation to rip them out – without any scientific evidence to back it up – to his desire to work with anti-dam advocates, it’s clear our dams are in danger. This legislation would help save them by focusing on facts and results. It’s time to recognize that salmon runs are improving at record rates thanks to our mitigation efforts and positive ocean conditions, and that the dams provide clean and reliable energy that powers our homes and businesses. That’s something worth protecting.”
“The importance of the four lower Snake River dams to our region’s farmers and rural communities for both transportation and energy production cannot be overstated. The science is clear that salmon and dams can co-exist, and therefore we support the Northwest Energy Security Act. The members of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation thank the sponsors of the bill,” said Bryan Searle, President, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.
“The Columbia and Snake Rivers are a critical marine highway that connects our region to the world. The dams on these waterways allow our PNW- grown wheat to get to market in the most reliable and efficient way possible. We deeply appreciate the work of Congressman Newhouse, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers, Senator Risch and other supporters of this legislation, as it recognizes the significance of our dams and the benefits they provide to the region and nation, and that river commerce and healthy, robust fish runs can continue to co-exist,” said Rob Rich, Shaver Transportation and Co-Chair, Inland Ports and Navigation Group (IPNG).
The Northwest Energy Security 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.”
The four hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River provide multiple benefits to Idaho and the region, including flood risk management, economic stimulus, crop irrigation, transportation, and clean hydropower.
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.
On October 21, 2021, the Department of Justice announced a settlement reached between the CRSO EIS plaintiffs and federal agencies on injunctive relief, including a temporary stay on the CRSO EIS litigation until July 2022.
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