A new letter has been sent to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory, demanding transparency in its involvement in the Columbia River System Operations litigation and mediation.

The letter was signed by Oregon Congressman Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Washington Representatives Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), and Idaho Representative Russ Fulcher (ID-01).

Letter Makes Immediate Request for "Package of Action and Commitments"

The letter to Chair Mallory begins with a request that the U.S. Government's developed "package of action and commitments" be shared by December 1. This package is part of the current negotiations concerning the Columbia River System Operations, which, as cited in the letter, is , as cited in the letter, would be discussed with "regional sovereigns and litigation parties and, following conferral, present to the Parties ‘decision-makers for final review and approval." Approval of the package would result in a multi-year stay of the litigation.

The letter goes on to say:

... we have heard a plethora of different complaints from various stakeholders that will be directly impacted by the court’s decision. These parties have raised  complaints about both the exclusionary process that has surrounded development of the “package of actions and commitments” as well as the significant costs and risks that would be unilaterally imposed on these stakeholders.

As a result, stakeholders and our constituents are concerned their long-standing contributions to the process have not been incorporated into the final product, nor their concerns heeded. If this were to happen, we are greatly concerned the package would not be reflective of the needs of people across the Pacific Northwest.


CEQ Warned Against "Clever Wordsmithing" To Circumvent Proper Procedure

The letter continues to make a stern warning to Chair Mallory and the CEQ that actions regarding the potential breach of the Lower Snake River Dams must be approved by Congress:

Congress alone has the authority not only to order the breach of the Lower Snake River Dams, but also exclusive authority to direct the study of breaching or to authorize replacement resources. This is statutory fact, and we warn the Administration not to attempt to circumvent that fact through clever wordsmithing.

It ends by expressing concern that the independence of the Bonneville Power Administration may be jeopardized by these decisions.

You can read the full letter here.

Previous Letter Also Demanded CEQ Transparency in Negotiation Process

This is the second letter sent by concerned congressmen in November. The original letter, sent by Congressman Bentz and Congressman Thomas Massie (KY-4), claimed that the Council on Environmental Quality had overstepped its authority in these negotiations. Transparency and the delivery of documents was also requested in this letter.

Chair Mallory, and the CEQ, have yet to respond publicly to the congressmen's demands.

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