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Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers Bill to Protect Columbia and Snake River Dams to Receive House Vote

April 20, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released the following joint statement applauding the announcement that their bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3144, will go to the floor of the House of Representatives for a full vote next week. H.R. 3144 would protect the Columbia and Snake River dams and ensure dams and fish can coexist by preserving the current Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion (BiOp) until 2022. 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), and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). H.R. 3144 was approved by a House Natural Resources Committee markup last week with support from both sides of the aisle.

“Today’s announcement marks important progress for our bipartisan legislation to safeguard the clean energy benefits provided by our region’s dams,” said Reps. Newhouse and McMorris Rodgers in a joint statement. “Our legislation will keep in place the current collaborative framework that fosters fish recovery efforts while balancing the many economic contributions of our dams. We are grateful to Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for ensuring that our bill will move forward to receive a vote in the House.”

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 (R-WA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Greg Walden (R-OR) 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 92 and 96 percent for yearling Chinook salmon and steelhead smolts at each of the four lower Snake River dams. 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.

In March, Reps. McMorris Rodgers, Newhouse and Herrera Beutler penned a column in the Tri City Herald advocating for the importance of protecting our dams and working collaboratively to recover endangered salmon. In case you missed it, you can read the column here.