Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers, Bentz React to Lopsided Columbia Basin Collaborative Membership

October 7, 2021
Press Release
So-called “collaborative” lacks representation for local communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Cliff Bentz (R-OR) released the following joint statement in reaction to the release of the unbalanced membership list for the Columbia Basin Collaborative:

“The concerns plaguing the Columbia Basin Collaborative from its onset only continue to grow—particularly concerning its lack of consideration provided to, and representation of, the local communities we represent. It appears the disproportionate membership of this group was chosen due to a political agenda, not an ability to represent the diverse views in our region.

“The issues being discussed within this four-state agreement have an enormous impact on our districts, and all of our constituents deserve a strong voice when debating decisions that have the potential to decimate their livelihoods and the economic future of their region.

“Meanwhile, with the State of Oregon positioned as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the CSRO EIS—as well as the recent news that the plaintiffs and federal government have requested a pause in the proceedings to discuss matters that could have an impact on the outcome of the case—it is clear just how inappropriate the name of this so-called “Collaborative” truly is. Its architects strategically formed this entity with the clear purpose of evading the federal statutory processes and plans already developed. They have no desire to engage in serious, comprehensive solutions for the benefit of the region; rather, they have a singular, ideologically driven motivation: dam-breaching.

“We remain committed to continuing our work to promote science-based efforts to improve salmon recovery, while ensuring the residents of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana continue to enjoy the benefits provided by our dams from clean, reliable, and affordable energy to irrigation, navigation, and beyond.”


In October 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and Idaho Governor Brad Little entered into a four-state agreement to form the Columbia Basin Collaborative to rebuild the Columbia River salmon and steelhead stocks and to advance the goals of the Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force ‘in a collaborative, public process to be defined with involvement from the region’s tribes, federal agencies, and stakeholders.’

In July 2021, Reps. Newhouse and McMorris Rodgers released a joint statement calling out a filing by the state of Oregon and other environmental groups that called for injunctive relief, including 24-hour maximum spillovers at all eight Columbia and Snake River dams as obstructive and detrimental to the four-state agreement.