NW Lawmakers Unhappy With Administration’s Support Of Snake River Dam Removal
Late last week, the Administration issued a final report that advocates for the breaching of the four lower Snake River dams. Many lawmakers across the PNW decried the report as nothing more than a political maneuver by the Biden Administration. Dan Newhouse, chair of the western Caucus, said it’s very peculiar that this report comes out as the Snake River enjoys record salmon returns. Newhouse added despite what the White House may claim, salmon and dams can coexist.
“[We have] Environmental impact statements from both Republican and Democratic administrations, saying the same thing that removing the dams is not the answer, there are so many other factors here, that are having a negative impact on salmon returns, whether its predation, we know about the sealions and the Caspian turns and things like that, whether it’s ocean conditions or so many other things that are factors here.”
Newhouse added the Administration did not bolster their argument with new information or numbers.
“Within the report, if you read it, it says they don’t know if these recommendations of breaching the dams will actually help. I’m not willing to gamble the economic future of the Pacific Northwest on an opinion that gives us no comfort or confidence that the result of which will actually improve anything.”
“While I appreciate the fact that the Biden administration included more voices in its final report on Columbia Basin salmon, I question the integrity of their dam breaching recommendation,” said eastern Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “The report explicitly states that it is unclear how breaching the Lower Snake River dams would positively impact juvenile fish survival rates. It further states that the concept of delayed mortality, an issue dam-breaching advocates often point to as the reason for ripping out critical federal clean power and navigation infrastructure, is unproven. Still, their unequivocal conclusion is that the dams must be breached to save the salmon. Just like two plus two doesn’t equal five, this just doesn’t add up.
“The only thing made clear by this report is that politically driven narratives and emotions continue to drown out the facts. Salmon runs have consistently improved over the last three years. Spring and Summer Chinook returns doubled from 2021 to 2022 and are 36% higher than the 10-year average. Fall Chinook have also increased 37% in just one year, proving that our mitigation efforts are working and ocean conditions have an outsized impact on returns. These simple facts might be inconvenient to the dam-breaching crowd, but this issue is far-too important for them to be ignored by federal scientists putting forth recommendations for salmon recovery.”
“The Biden administration has released yet another ‘report’ with cherry-picked facts and selective stakeholder engagement that does nothing but serve its political agenda and undermine the comprehensive and public process that determined dam removal is not necessary. What dam breaching does guarantee, however, are substantial losses in reliable, clean energy generation, significantly reduced markets for farmers, and extreme cost increases for consumers,” said Idaho senator Jim Risch. “While this Administration is content with sky-high energy prices and inflation that promotes their radical agenda, only Congress can authorize dam removal. Now more than ever, I am flat out opposed.”
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