WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID) joined Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and 8 other Members of Congress in introducing legislation to protect the Four Lower Snake River Dams. Shortly after, Governor Inslee and Senator Murray released their draft report whose premise ignores the science in order to achieve an ideological goal of breaching these critical pieces of infrastructure.
Today, Members of Congress, industry leaders, stakeholders, and representatives in Central Washington issued the following statements in support of Rep. Newhouse’s legislation and leadership in protecting these dams:
"The science is crystal clear: breaching the Four Lower Snake River Dams would be harmful to our communities, our environment, and our economy,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA). “Amidst a national energy and supply chain crisis, it is unconscionable that dam-breaching advocates—including Governor Inslee and Senator Murray—repeatedly attempt to force a predetermined, unscientific conclusion that will put our communities who are already struggling at risk. In the Pacific Northwest, not only do we depend on this critical infrastructure for clean, renewable, and affordable energy, but transportation for 60% of the nation’s wheat. The Snake River Dams are integral to flood control, navigation, irrigation, agriculture, and recreation in Central Washington and our region cannot afford to lose them. 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 Four Lower Snake River Dams provide immense value to Idahoans, our economy, and the Northwest as a whole. As our country faces increasingly hostile foreign energy suppliers and our own Administration’s out-of-control inflation that threatens our domestic energy reliability, the importance of our dams and the power generation they provide has never been clearer. I am proud to join Congressman Newhouse on this important legislation.” – Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID)
“Our country is officially facing the worst energy crisis since 1973. Gas prices have surpassed $5 a gallon nationwide, and there is a growing concern that blackouts this summer are imminent. Meanwhile, there are groups focused on tearing out the lower snake river dams, which we now know could cost up to $27 billion and drastically reduce energy reliability in our state. This approach is misguided, it’s alarming, and it needs to be stopped. I’m proud to lead this legislation with Congressman Newhouse to protect our dams and promote hydropower production, and I’m glad to see it getting the attention it deserves.” – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
“During Chairman Newhouse’s tour of Washington in early June, I saw firsthand the important role hydropower will continue to play in an all-of-the-above energy approach. I applaud Chairman Newhouse for following the science and introducing this critical bill to provide clean, renewable and affordable energy to the Pacific Northwest and support native salmon population recovery. Commonsense legislation like this bill allows the region’s economy and environment to flourish. During record inflation, legislation that provides economic relief to citizens is exactly what Congress should be focusing on.” – Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR)
“Our nation is facing an energy crisis. Now more than ever, it is critical that we preserve our hydropower dams throughout the West. They provide reliable, clean, low cost energy to the grid, as well as high paying technical jobs. Dams also help shape the landscape of the West, creating recreational space, assisting in flood control, constructing reservoirs for water storage, and delivering water to agriculture producers, which is now more important than ever as we face drought across the West.” – Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)
“Our Columbia and Snake Rivers are a critical component of the regional, national and global transportation system, linking our Northwest farmers with customers around the world. We appreciate the work of Congressman Newhouse, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and other supporters of this legislation, as it recognizes our dams provide significant benefits to the region and nation, and that river commerce and healthy, robust fish runs can continue to co-exist.” – Tom Kammerzell, County Commissioner, Port of Whitman and Chairman, Inland Ports and Navigation Group (IPNG)
“We truly appreciate Congressman Newhouse’s unwavering support for our hydropower system, including the introduction of this legislation which recognizes the expertise of the career scientists who determined that removing the Lower Snake River Dams is not in the best interest of the American people. The benefits these dams provide are critical for people and economies throughout the Pacific Northwest, and this bill would provide important certainty for the communities and industries that rely on them.” – Karl Dye, President and CEO, TRIDEC
“The four Lower Snake River dams are an integral part of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) and it defies belief that breaching is still part of any discussion. Not only are these multi-purpose dams critical in continuing to provide low cost energy, navigation, recreation and flood control, the studies from non-biased sources have shown that due to improved fish passage facilities, strict operational criteria, and other mitigation measures, the dams and fish co-exist successfully. The dams are critical to a continuation of a strong Columbia Basin economy. Jobs are created directly due to navigation, agriculture, recreation and power industries and indirectly in the area service industries that support these professions. We strongly support Congressman Newhouse and this legislation.” – Jack Heffling, President, United Power Trades Organization
“Populations of Spring/Summer Chinook on the Snake River are increasing this year, for the third year in a row as part of a natural cycle and returns on the Snake will be above average this year. As the federal scientists found, these dams "are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the ESA-listed species.” With increased demand for clean energy over the next decade, the power from these dams will be more important than ever as part of our efforts to decarbonize. Removing them would both increase the risk of blackouts and extend our reliance on natural gas as a source of electricity.” – Todd Myers, Director, Center for the Environment, Washington Policy Center
“The Columbia River System Operations Final Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision released by the federal government in 2020 followed a multi-year, NEPA-compliant process, which in the end, recommended against removing the Snake River dams, which are vital to Washington’s wheat growers. We support the efforts to ensure any decisions on the operations of the lower Snake River dams follow the latest federal scientific review.” – Michelle Hennings, Executive Director, Washington Association of Wheat Growers
“It makes sense to utilize the latest federal scientific reviewed information to operate the Federal Columbia River Power System and ensure the essential services provided by the system continue.” – Glen Squires, CEO, Washington Grain Commission
"While we continue to face our own issues in California, we understand that action must also be taken to safeguard the communities, economies, and environment that would be impacted by breaching the Four Lower Snake River Dams. At a time of extended drought coupled with heightened food and energy prices, we must do everything we can to safeguard critical infrastructure for clean, domestically produced energy and transportation for our agricultural commodities.” – Jamie Johansson, President, California Farm Bureau
“The four lower Snake River dams are incredibly important to our region’s farmers and rural communities, for both transportation and energy production. The science is clear that salmon and dams can co-exist, and therefore we support The Federal Columbia River Power System Certainty Act. The members of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation thank the sponsors of the bill.” – Bryan Searle, President, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
“The value of the Lower Snake River dams to the people of Washington state and our trade partners in the U.S. and around the world cannot be overstated. The recent release of the Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report does not provide a clear or accurate picture of the benefits of the Lower Snake River dams or their contributions to clean energy, food security, transportation, and recreation. The lack of data source information, vast disparities in cost estimates, and lack of conclusions related to dam breaching outcomes suggests the report was written to push a false narrative: salmon are dying and only destroying the Lower Snake River dams can save them. That narrative has not been borne out by data. The science shows the 2022 Chinook run is higher for the third year running – salmon are not going extinct, as dam opponents claim. This flawed report ignores the benefits of hydropower, barging of agricultural products, irrigation, and recreation the dams provide to people living in Washington state and across the region in favor of single-species recovery efforts.” – Pam Lewison, Research Director, Washington Policy Center, Initiative on Agriculture
Click here to read the full text of the bill.
- 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.”
- 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 rebuked plans to breach the Lower Snake River Dams.
- On October 15, 2021, Governor Inslee and Senator Murray announced plans to assess the breaching of the Lower Snake River Dams.
- 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 stay on the CRSO EIS litigation until July 2022.
- On October 22, 2021, Governor Inslee and Senator Murray announced next steps to deliver a report intended to justify breaching the Lower Snake River Dams by July 2022. Reps. Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers, and Jaime Herrera Beutler released a joint statement reacting to the announcement. Read more here.
- Last week, Rep. Newhouse led Congressional Western Caucus Members from across the United States on a field tour of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, including a tour of the Ice Harbor Dam. Learn more here.