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Commentaries and editorials

House Republicans Accuse Biden of Threatening
Environment with Proposed Dam Replacements

by Cami Mondeaux
Washington Examiner, April 8, 2024

"The planned removal of these four dams by the Biden Administration is a direct attack
on ratepayers, clean energy production, and navigation in the Northwest."

-- Congressman Cliff Bentz (R-OR)

Congressman Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) is concerned about plans to replace the four Lower Snake River dams: Tweets 'These dams provide irreplaceable benefits not only to the ratepayers of Oregon, but to the entire Western US.' EXCLUSIVE -- House Republicans are demanding information from the Biden administration about its plans to replace four hydroelectric dams in Washington and the negative effects it could have on the local environment.

In a letter sent to U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young on Monday, a pair of House Republicans pressed the White House for more information on President Joe Biden's proposal to breach the four Lower Snake River dams.

The request comes in response to Biden's proposal to open the dams as a way to help recover the declining salmon populations, prompting concerns among some conservationists who say such a move could harm the environment as well as have a negative impact on the local power grid.

"Hydropower provides individuals and families across the Pacific Northwest access to an affordable, reliable energy source that is notably carbon-free," Reps. Cliff Bentz (R-OR) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) wrote in the letter, which was first obtained by the Washington Examiner. "The Biden administration's actions threaten the economic vitality and environmental stability of our region, and it is critical that we understand the potential impacts of any decisions made regarding the future of the Lower Snake River Dams."

The Republicans, who both sit on the House Committee on Natural Resources, argued that replacing the dams would increase carbon dioxide emissions in the area by 2 million to 2.6 million tons annually, citing a study by the Bonneville Power Administration. Doing so, the Republicans said, would go against "Biden's stated goal of achieving a net zero emissions economy by 2050."

Breaching the dams would also cause higher energy costs for residents over the next 20 years, with energy bills increasing by 8% to 18%, according to the lawmakers.

"These dams provide irreplaceable benefits not only to the ratepayers of Oregon, but to the entire Western United States," Bentz said in a statement. "The planned removal of these four dams by the Biden Administration is a direct attack on ratepayers, clean energy production, and navigation in the Northwest."

The letter comes after the Biden administration announced last year it would spend more than $1 billion over the next decade to help recover depleted salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest while maintaining the hydropower and other energy benefits of the four dams. Although the administration stopped short of calling for the full removal of the dams, many opponents of the plan have said breaching the dams would open the door to their eventual dismantling.

"The Committee is deeply concerned that the ultimate goal of the Biden administration is to make the Lower Snake River Dams inoperable," the lawmakers wrote. "Indeed, the Biden administration's Blog Post, Rebuilding Report, Healthy and Abundant Memo, and Settlement Agreement, are all geared towards reducing the economic viability of the Lower Snake River Dams while laying the foundation for their eventual removal. Recent remarks from Biden administration officials suggest the Committee's fears are well founded."

As part of the letter, the lawmakers are requesting forthcoming information from related agencies to the Office of Management and Budget in support of the Biden administration's plan to replace the dams. The Washington Examiner contacted the OMB for comment but has not received a response.


Cami Mondeaux
House Republicans Accuse Biden of Threatening Environment with Proposed Dam Replacements
Washington Examiner, April 8, 2024

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