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Commentaries and editorials

Biden Administration Ignores the Facts:
WA's Snake River Dams Are Not the Problem

by Rep. Dan Newhouse
Tri-City Herald, April 8, 2022

"It ignores not one, but two multi-year, multi-million dollar studies that came to the conclusion
that dam-breaching would not benefit our native salmon species. "
-- Rep. Dan Newhouse

Washington representatives to Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse It is completely mind-boggling that amidst an energy and supply chain crisis, President Biden would remove a source of power and transportation for an entire region. Yet, just last week, the White House updated their blog with a post about doing just that: breaching the four Lower Snake River Dams.

This "blog post" proves that the Biden Administration is beholden to radical, environmental lobbyists, and is only hearing their side of the argument. They are completely ignoring the devastating impacts that breaching the Lower Snake River Dams would have on the people of Central Washington and the entire Pacific Northwest. And they're trying to use salmon to prop up their flimsy arguments.

Not only is their narrative peppered with falsehoods, but it completely ignores so many elements of this many-faceted issue. It ignores not one, but two multi-year, multi-million dollar studies implemented by both Republican and Democratic administrations that came to the conclusion that dam-breaching would not benefit our native salmon species. Let me repeat that: conservation experts and scientists studied this issue for years and came to the same conclusion most of us know already: salmon and dams coexist.

(bluefish notes: The Congressman could not be more wrong. Both the "multi-million dollar studies" found Removal of Snake River Embankments to be the best means of restoring Idaho's salmon populations. Signed as a Record of Decision weeks before Donald Trump's election defeat, the Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement emphasized this point in its Executvie Summary (page 29): Either the Congressman and his staff did not read the Executive Summary, or they did and are lying in their campaign to protect the Snake River Embankments.)
And you know why? Because we have done what Central Washingtonians do: innovate, adapt, and thrive. There is no doubt that construction of dams throughout the Pacific Northwest has placed significant impacts on fish and our environment, but these species began declining long before the Lower Snake River Dams were even built. In the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, the state of Idaho quite literally poisoned their lakes and waterways systematically to exterminate native salmon populations because they weren't "good fishin.'"

Today, we have done more than just overcome these impacts. We have taken steps to restore and protect our native salmon populations, including continued investments in research and development, as well as new technologies to improve fish passage.

I remain committed to bolstering native salmon populations, and it is important to note that it is not just the dams that have impacted the species. The stressors and challenges they face result from a myriad of issues, including poor ocean conditions, excessive predation, and environmental degradation like sewage dumping. Our dams have fish ladders and well over a 90% fish passage rate, and our salmon are showing record levels of recovery. To compress these impacts into one singular argument -- that dam breaching is the only answer -- is a disingenuous perspective that should be rejected.

Every day, fish biologists, local conservation partners, tribal neighbors, and federal agencies work hard to protect and revitalize this population. The data shows they have made clear and significant progress.

Unfortunately, radical environmentalists have decided that they want our dams breached at any cost -- and they won't stop with just ours. Because of the political power they hold, Governor Inslee and Senator Murray have bought into their unscientific notions. And now, the White House is perpetuating their myths.

The men and women who live in Central Washington rely on these critical pieces of infrastructure for clean, carbon-free energy throughout the region, water for their crops that feed the world, and clean, reliable transportation to move their goods to export markets. They don't just want to keep these dams; they need these dams. And I won't let them take them.

I will continue to fight for our dams, and the clean energy, reliable transportation, and life-giving water they provide. I will listen to the science, which shows that dams are not the problem. I will support our salmon recovery efforts -- that are working. And I urge these misguided groups and ill-informed officials to stop playing politics with these dams: our way of life in Central Washington and the Pacific Northwest depends on it.

Related Pages:
Murray, Inslee Bend to Political Hostage-Taking by Rep. Dan Newhouse, KEPR, 10/28/21
Stay Out of My Backyard, Rep. Simpson, and I'll Stay Out of Yours by Rep. Dan Newhouse, Lewiston Tribune, 5/27/21
Rep. Newhouse, Dams in Your District are Doing Damage to Mine by Rep. Mike Simpson, Lewiston Tribune, 5/29/21

Rep. Dan Newhouse
Biden Administration Ignores the Facts: WA's Snake River Dams Are Not the Problem
Tri-City Herald, April 8, 2022

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