Oregon, Idaho Reach
by Associated Press
States compromise on Snake River hydroelectric plant
BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho and Oregon have reached an agreement on a hydroelectric project on the Snake River that requires an Idaho utility to spend about $312 million on water quality and habitat improvements.
Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little and Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown in separate news releases announced the agreement Monday.
"This long-awaited agreement supplies clean, affordable energy for Idahoans, improves water quality, and provides additional fish for recreational and tribal ceremonial purposes," Little said.
"This agreement benefits the communities of Eastern Oregon, since we know what's good for water, habitat, and fish is good for people," Brown said.
Idaho Power has been trying to obtain a new 50-year license for its Hells Canyon Complex from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after the old one expired in 2005, and it's been operating on annual licenses.
But the utility has been caught in the middle of a fight between the two states. Oregon insisted on returning federally protected salmon and steelhead above the dams. Idaho officials didn't want the fish above the dams because that could force expensive restoration work in environmentally degraded agricultural areas.
(bluefish notes: Salmonids will be introduced to Pine Creek, which enters the Snake River from the Oregon side, immediately below Oxbow Dam, thereby assuaging the agricultural interests concerns of having introduced fish in the foul-waters of Brownlee Reservoir.)Idaho won, but Oregon may get compensation.
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