Federal Agencies Sign EIS, Keeping Snake River Dams

Ice Harbor Lock and Dam

Earlier this week, several federal agencies signs the Environmental Impact Statement regarding management of the Columbia and Snake River systems. The draft EIS, which was released earlier this year, said removing the Snake River dams would destabilize the power grid and increase greenhouse emissions. The risk of a regional power shortages, the report said, would more than double and the lowest-cost replacement power would be $200 million a year. While the dams will remain, the agencies, including the Army Corp of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration, decided more water would be spilled over the dams each spring to help juvenile fish heading down stream.

The Record of Decision is being criticized by several environmental groups that claim the four Lower Snake River dams have dramatically hurt salmon populations and harmed the area environment.

However, the signing was welcomed news by the Northwest’s Republican lawmakers:

“Federal water infrastructure makes our way of life possible throughout the West. Central Washington boasts one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, and our farmers and ranchers would simply not be able to provide food and fiber for the world without a reliable supply of our most precious resource: water,” said Representative Dan Newhouse. “The Presidential Memorandum, which called for the completion of the scientific environmental review for the Columbia River System Operations a year sooner than originally slated, is delivering certainty to not only our agriculture industry, but to the millions of people who rely on the clean and reliable power generated by our hydroelectric dams. I applaud President Trump and his Administration for working collaboratively to support our federal water infrastructure, ensure reliable water supply and delivery, and develop a plan for the future.”

“The Columbia and Snake River dams are foundational to our way of life in the Pacific Northwest,” said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “They provide us clean, renewable, low-cost energy, support our farmers, provide flood control to our region, and so much more. Based on the best available science, the Columbia River System Operations (CRSO) Record of Decision confirms what we already knew, our dams and river system are essential to our region. Alongside this decision, the administration’s announcement today regarding their actions to ensure a reliable supply of water to the Western United States is essential to meeting the needs of communities in Eastern Washington. Thank you to President Trump for prioritizing and delivering results on these important issues.”

“The Columbia River is vital to the way of life of Southwest Washingtonians, providing clean hydropower, productive salmon runs, safety from floods, and reliable transportation on the Columbia River,” added Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler. “The final Record of Decision on the Columbia River System Operations (CRSO) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is the culmination of science-based collaboration by several federal agencies, as well as regional, state, local, and tribal stakeholders. I am pleased that completion of the EIS was prioritized and that it will balance the many needs of Southwest Washingtonians for the future.”

“The carbon free, baseload energy that the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) provides is more important than ever,” said Representative Russ Fulcher. “The Snake River Dams are critical to our grid’s reliability. While many in California will attack our critical infrastructure, they needed the systems baseload energy this summer to prop up their flawed energy policy. With the release of the FCRPS Record of Decision, the science shows, yet again, that our hydropower system is crucial to our way of life in Idaho and the entire West.”

“Oregon and the Pacific Northwest are blessed with a river system that helps us transport goods and that generates 43 percent of our state’s electricity. I am pleased that the Trump Administration successfully prioritized the completion of the most recent environmental review guiding operations of the Columbia River System, to protect fish and support clean, renewable energy in our region,” said Representative Greg Walden.

Click Here to read the entire Record of Decision.

Here is the signing ceremony from this week:

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