Congressional Members Discuss Snake River Dams in Richland
Eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho representatives are speaking out against supporters of breaching four Snake River Dams to help restore salmon.
4th District Congressman Dan Newhouse today (6/26) hosted a visit by the House Natural Resources Committee for a tour of the Ice Harbor Dam.
"Anywhere between 50 to 60-million tons of cargo are barged through the Snake River annually. Meanwhile, fish passing through the dams have a 96-98% survival rate," Representative Newhouse said. "I not only long oppose the breaching of the Lower Snake River dams, I strongly support their preservation."
The tour of the dam was followed by a field hearing at Richland High School where Representative Newhouse, Eastern Washington Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Eastern Oregon Representative Cliff Bentz and others reiterated the importance of the dams and their impacts on river commerce, agriculture and energy production.
"The Lower Snake River dams have the capacity to generate 3,000 megawatts of reliable, clean electricity to power our homes and businesses, enough electricity to power 1/3 homes in Washington State. Without them, we're in big trouble." Representative McMorris-Rodgers said.
Environmentalists, tribes and many legislators have long argued the decimation of salmon and steelhead following the creation of the dams by the U-S Army Corps of Engineers in the 60's and 70's. They say the Lower Snake River has turned into a waterway of warm, shallow lakes where migrating salmon suffer due to increased water temperatures and predators along with the dams' turbines.
Representative McMorris Rodgers questions whether proponents of breaching the dams have their facts straight.
"Salmon returns on the Lower Snake River are making encouraging gains. Last year, spring Chinook returns were 31% above the 10-year average." Representative McMorris-Rodgers added.
Both McMorris Rodgers and Newhouse have introduced the Northwest Energy Security Act to protect all four dams. Idaho Senator Jim Risch and Montana Senator Steve Daines brought forward a companion bill in the Senate.
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