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Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers Announce Committee Markup for Legislation to Preserve Columbia and Snake River Dams

April 6, 2018
Press Release
Without Action, Pacific Northwest Ratepayers Face $40 Million Price Tag in Increased Rates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released the following statement on the markup announcement for bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3144, which they introduced to protect the operations of Snake and Columbia River dams. The Committee on Natural Resources will hold a markup on H.R. 3144 on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 10:15 a.m. in 1324 Longworth House Office Building.

“The lower Columbia and Snake River dams are critical infrastructure in our region, providing many benefits that include flood control, navigation, irrigation, recreation, and clean, low-cost, carbon-free power,” said Reps. Newhouse and McMorris Rodgers. “The judge’s order increasing forced spill and mandating the possibility of breaching flies in the face of the current collaborative framework that is the result of years of study and stakeholder input. Our legislation would allow the continued operation of the dams under that framework to preserve the benefits of our energy infrastructure while continuing to invest in fish recovery efforts. Dams and fish can coexist, and we look forward to House consideration of our legislation to ensure that essential infrastructure assets in the Pacific Northwest are not removed.”

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Additional cosponsors of H.R. 3144 include:

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID)

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT)

Background:

In March of 2017, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued a court order that federal agencies increase spill over Columbia and Snake River dams beginning in spring of 2018. Federal agencies have estimated that without action to prevent the order from taking effect, increasing spill will result in an increase of $40 million in costs for ratepayers in 2018 alone. The judge’s order to increase spill went into effect on April 3, 2018.

In June of 2017, Pacific Northwest Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), and Greg Walden (OR-02) introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3144, to approve the Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion (BiOp) until 2022.

The existing FCRPS BiOp helps ensure that the Pacific Northwest has access to clean, renewable, and affordable energy to power homes, businesses, and communities. The FCRPS BiOp was the product of unprecedented collaboration between President Barack Obama’s administration, states, and sovereign Northwest tribes. The BiOp has helped to produce record fish returns through the use of modern, innovative technology, and has widespread support in the region.

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has noted $15.28 billion in total spending since 1978 on fish recovery and mitigation in the FCRPS. BPA also reported that average juvenile dam passage survival currently ranges between 96 and 99 percent for yearling Chinook salmon and steelhead smolts at each dam. In response to Judge Simon’s ordering of increased spill over the dams, BPA said consequences could cause “biological, physical and/or structural, and potential adverse consequences for the combined federal power and transmission system.”

H.R. 3144 protects the Columbia and Snake River dams and the benefits they bring to the Pacific Northwest region through the clean, renewable, and affordable energy it provides while allowing salmon to recover at record rates. With Judge Simon’s court order looming for ratepayers, Reps. Newhouse, McMorris-Rodgers, and Herrera Beutler responded to a letter from U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and others opposing H.R. 3144.

You can read the full text of the legislation here.