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Appropriations Bill Includes Language Probiting Dam Removal Without Congress' OK
Posted on Friday, July 14, 2017 (PST)

The House Appropriations Committee this week approved a 2018 Energy and Water bill that includes language prohibiting the removal of federal dams unless previously authorized by Congress.


The legislation passed by the committee included funding for previously authorized phases of the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project, Small Modular Reactor development and deployment, and hydropower and nuclear energy, as well as language prohibiting the removal of federal dams and protecting Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights on Army Corps of Engineers land.


U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the House Appropriations Committee’s full committee markup on the fiscal year 2018 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.


“This legislation appropriates funds to support Central Washington water storage projects and agencies responsible for managing water infrastructure across the country,” said Newhouse. “I am pleased that the bill includes language I worked on with my Pacific Northwest colleagues to protect federal dams – including the four lower Snake River dams. Additionally, the bill advances U.S. energy independence by supporting the development of important energy sources and technologies, from nuclear and Small Modular Reactors, to hydropower, grid security, and electricity storage.”


He said, “The bill includes a provision prohibiting the use of funds for the removal of any federally owned or operated dam unless the removal was previously authorized by Congress.”


Central Washington priorities in the bill include funding for continued implementation of the Columbia River Treaty, operations and management resources for the Chief Joseph, Ice Harbor, and Lower Monumental Dams, and funding for important water management projects in the Columbia Basin and the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project. Additionally, Newhouse said, mitigation efforts for fish impacts in the Columbia River continue to receive funding.


The full text of the legislation can be found


In addition, Pacific Northwest Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Newhouse, Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Greg Walden (R-OR) in late June introduced legislation to approve the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) Biological Opinion for salmon and steelhead until 2022.


This legislation, says a press release, “will work to support the FCRPS and the benefit it brings to our region through the clean, renewable, and affordable energy it provides while allowing salmon to recover at record rates.”


“Hydropower provides 70 percent of our energy in Washington state – much of which is produced on the Federal Columbia River Power System,” said McMorris Rodgers. “The FCRPS ensures people in Eastern Washington have access to clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable energy every single day—all while achieving record fish returns. There is still work to be done, but dams and fish can coexist, and the FCRPS proves that.”


The legislation ontent/uploads/2017/06/MCMORR_021_xml.pdf says, “ No structural modification, action, study, or engineering plan that restricts electrical generation at any Federal Columbia Power System hydroelectric dam, or that limits navigation on the Snake River in the State of Washington, Oregon, or Idaho, shall proceed unless such proposal is specifically and expressly authorized by an Act of Congress enacted after the date of submission to Congress of a proposal for such modification, action, study, or engineering plan, respectively.”


In May, House members from Washington and Oregon wrote a letter expressing concerns over the management of the FCRPS following Judge Michael Simon’s March 27, 2017, court order on motions for injunctive relief. After receiving responses from the Bonneville Power Administration and other officials regarding the implications of Simon’s decision, “it’s clear that action must be taken to protect ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest and allow the experts to continue their work on fish recovery,” said the legislators in a press release.


In BPA’s June response, the agency noted $15.28 billion in total spending since 1978 on fish recovery and mitigation in the FCRPS, said the legislators.


Also see:


-- CBB, May 6, 2017, “Federal Court Again Rejects Columbia Basin Salmon/Steelhead Recovery Plan; Orders New BiOp By 2018”

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