the film


Commentaries and editorials

Legislation Would Protect
Snake River Dams

by Center Square
Ritzville Adams County Journal, June 16, 2022

"This provision expressly prohibits the Army Corps
from taking action to breach the dams,"
-- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane

Graphic: Returns of Adult salmon and Steelhead to Idaho as counted at the last dam they must cross on their upstream journey (1962-2018) WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Eastern Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, helped get legislation approved by the U.S House of Representatives on Wednesday night that includes language to protect four Lower Snake River dams.

"Salmon and dams can-and-do co-exist," she said Thursday. "Study after study has shown the critical benefits the Lower Snake River dams provide to our region: affordable and reliable hydropower, low-emissions transportation of goods, and irrigation for farmers in Washington who feed the world."

The Water Resources Development Act is the biannual bill to address water resources infrastructure funding, as well as Army Corps of Engineers projects for navigation, flood damage reduction, and ecosystem restoration. The language protecting the dams was included in the House version of the act, McMorris Rodgers said.

Of 13 endangered salmon and steelhead species in the Columbia River Basin, only four travel the length of the Columbia River and through the Lower Snake dams.

McMorris Rodgers said the importance of the dams to navigation and energy production will be explored by a newly established Columbia River Basin Trust and Task Force. That group will be made up of stakeholders with an interest in endangered salmon and the benefits of the river system.

The group will be tasked with developing a restoration plan for the basin and help inform federal investments aimed at restoring endangered salmon while preserving power generation, navigation and irrigation benefits.

"This provision expressly prohibits the Army Corps from taking action to breach the dams," McMorris Rodgers said. "It's time for all stakeholders to come together and recognize that recovering endangered salmon is going to take smart investments in habitat restoration, fish passage in blocked areas, better management of predators, and a clear understanding of what is happening to fish in the ocean. I'm hopeful the Columbia River Basin Trust can help put us on a better path."

The legislation also creates an even playing field for Pacific Northwest ratepayers as Columbia River Treaty negotiations proceed, she said.

"Ratepayers in Eastern Washington have subsidized the hydropower the United States sends to Canada for far too long," she said. "With the flood control provisions of the Columbia River Treaty set to expire in less than two years, it is critical that we position ourselves to mitigate flood risks with our own infrastructure.

"Ratepayers in Washington cannot continue to be held hostage, which is why it is so important to give the Army Corps the tools it needs to ensure we can meet our flood control needs without relying on Canada."

Last fall, McMorris Rodgers and House transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, sent a bipartisan bicameral letter to President Joe Biden urging his administration to prioritize the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty and to provide regular, substantive updates to Congress on the status of its modernization.

In March, McMorris Rodgers also urged the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to protect the Lower Snake River dams and prioritize the re-negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty as part of the Water Resources Development Act.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Sen Patty Murray, D-Bothell, both Democrats, have backed plans to breach the dams.

Last October, Murray, a member of Senate Democratic leadership, announced she would push Congress to authorize a federal study of the cost and impact of breaching the dams.


To provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System pursuant to a certain operation plan for a specified period of time, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

The Act may be cited as the "Federal Columbia River Power System Certainty Act".

For the purposes of this Act:
(1) FCRPS.--The term "FCRPS" means those portions of the Federal Columbia River Power System that are the subject of the Supplemental Opinion.

--The term "Secretaries" means--
(A) the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation;
(B) the Secretary of Energy, acting through the Bonneville Power Administration; and
(C) the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Army Corps of Engineers.

(3) SUPPLEMENTAL OPINION.--The term "Supplemental Opinion" means the document titled "Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision", and dated September 2020.

The Secretaries shall operate the FCRPS in a manner consistent with the reasonable and prudent alternative set forth in the Supplemental Opinion.
(bluefish inserts: Preferred Alternative is PA in table below, while MO3 is the Multi-Objective centered around Remove Snake River Embankments.)

Remove Snake River Embankments (MO3) is an more economically beneficial than the Preferred Alternative (PA) of the Columbia River System Operations EIS.

(a) IN GENERAL.--Notwithstanding section 3, the Secretaries may amend portions of the Supplemental Opinion and operate the FCRPS in accordance with such amendments if all of the Secretaries determine, in the sole discretion of each Secretary, that--
(1) the amendment is necessary for public safety or transmission and grid reliability; or
(2) the actions, operations, or other requirements that the amendment would remove are no longer warranted.

--The process described in subsection (a) shall be the only method by which the Secretaries may operate the FCRPS in any way that is not consistent with the reasonable and prudent alternative set forth in the Supplemental Opinion.

--No structural modification, action, study, or engineering plan that restricts electrical generation at any FCRPS hydroelectric dam, or that limits navigation on the Snake River in the State of Washington, Oregon, or Idaho, shall proceed unless such proposal is specifically and expressly authorized by a Federal statute enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(b) CLARIFICATION.--Nothing in this section affects or interferes with the authority of the Secretaries to conduct operation and maintenance activities or make capital improvements necessary to meet authorized project purposes of FCRPS facilities.

Center Square
Legislation Would Protect Snake River Dams
Ritzville Adams County Journal, June 16, 2022

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