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Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers Call on Governor Inslee to Veto Federal Dam Breaching Study

May 20, 2019
Press Release
Widespread public support for Snake River dams points to essential clean energy, transportation, flood control benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released the following joint statement urging Washington Governor Jay Inslee to veto the $750,000 line item in the capital budget that would commission a state-funded study on breaching the federally-owned and operated Snake River dams in Central Washington:

“This study is a waste of state taxpayer dollars. We stand with the people of Central and Eastern Washington who rely on the Snake River dams in calling for Governor Inslee to veto the $750,000 line item in the capital budget. Instead of studying the removal of our federal dams, these state dollars could have been used to fund salmon recovery programs that directly aid endangered salmon species. Our dams provide essential benefits to our way of life in the Pacific Northwest – from powering nearly 2 million homes with clean and affordable energy to providing market access for our region’s farmers and producers. As the federal government continues to conduct a comprehensive environmental analysis of the river power system, we will continue to defend the dams from these misguided, state-led breaching efforts. We call on Governor Inslee to veto this wasteful exercise.”

Background:

On May 10, 2019, thirty-three organizations sent a letter to Governor Inslee urging him to remove the $750,000 in funding in Section 118 of ESHS 1109 (the biennial operating budget) for a study of breaching the lower Snake River dams. Additionally, the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council and the International Union of Operating Engineers each wrote letters imploring Inslee to veto the study.

In December 2018, Reps. Newhouse and McMorris Rodgers issued a joint statement opposing Governor Inslee’s proposed study.

Widespread public support for the Snake River dams has pointed to the essential clean energy, transportation, and flood control benefits the dams provide the Pacific Northwest. See highlights below:

 “Taking out the lower Snake River dams would have consequences that would be difficult to overcome, while offering little help to salmon and orcas.”
Push is on to tear down dams to save salmon and orcas. Why these people say it’s a bad idea (May 14, 2019)

 “The dams are the foundation of a thriving, environmentally friendly system underpinning a good portion of the Pacific Northwest in terms of transportation, clean energy production, recreation, flood control, and irrigation.”
Jeffrey Shawver, President, Washington Association of Wheat Growers: Snake River dams are critical to wheat growers (May 19, 2019)

 “While it’s yet to be definitively known that breaching the dams would only minimally improve salmon spawning – who knows, maybe the federal study might surprise critics and find it helps tremendously – we have a better grasp on what removal would mean to those who depend on the river for power and commerce throughout Eastern and Central Washington. In short, a breach would leave folks in the lurch.”
Editorial: Further review of Snake River Dams not needed (May 8, 2019)

 “Their goal is tearing out the four dams on the lower Snake River at any cost. This would have zero impact on the orcas but cause massive damage to Eastern Washington’s economy.”
Editorial: A waste of Washington state’s money (May 16, 2019)

 “It is also important to remember that dam breaching or any other significant change to our federal infrastructure would have to be authorized and also funded by Congress. Congress has never gone down that path, and for good reason. No agency study has ever recommended dam breaching as the best way to recover Northwest fish runs. And those dams provide important benefits to the Northwest.”
Kristin Meira, Executive Director, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association: Snake River dams – setting the record straight (May 6, 2019)

 “Undoubtedly, protecting salmon and orcas is important to both current and future Washingtonians. The species are iconic symbols of our state’s heritage and economy. But the demand for yet another study is a specious and unnecessary ploy that ignores previous findings and the economic realities of the situation. Asking the same question over and over until you receive the answer you desire amounts to a waste of money rather than effective governance.”
In Our View: Study of Snake River dams waste of tax dollars (May 15, 2019)

 “A sitting state senator’s total naivete about the source of 70 percent of her state’s power is a depressing example of just how unaware Western Washington politicians can be about the inland Northwest, and about how essential dams are to our way of life.”
Kelli Scott: Breach the dams, save the orcas? If only it were that easy (May 16, 2019)