Jun 21, 2023 | Blog

Issue Alert: Importance Of Snake River Dams Highlighted

Importance of Snake River Dams Highlighted

Family Farm Alliance Issue Alert

Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

June 21, 2023

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Western Republicans in Congress and the Wall Street Journal are drawing attention to the importance of dams in the Pacific Northwest and their impacts on river commerce, agriculture and energy production.

Later today in Washington, D.C. the Congressional Western Caucus (Caucus) will host a hydropower forum titled, “The Importance of Hydropower for Rural Communities.”

Environmentalists concerned about salmon spawning have wanted to undam the Snake River for decades. They’ve focused their efforts on four dams on the lower part of the Snake, just above its confluence with the Columbia River.

Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (R-WASHINGTON) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WASHINGTON) will lead Members and witnesses from the power industry and agriculture in a discussion about these efforts and the importance of hydropower for rural communities.

“The Four Lower Snake River Dams are integral to flood control, navigation, irrigation, agriculture, and recreation in Central Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest—to put it simply, we cannot afford to lose them,” Rep. Newhouse said earlier this year.

Today’s forum begins at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern) in the Capitol Visitors Center, Room HVC-201.

Next Monday, June 26, House Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Chairman Cliff Bentz (R-OREGON), Rep. McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Newhouse will host members for a site visit to one of the targeted dams – Ice Harbor – and a field hearing at Richland High School in Richland (WASHINGTON).

CLICK HERE for more information, including the schedule for next Monday’s Eastern Washington tour and field hearing. If you plan to attend in person, please RSVP to John.Seibels@mail.house.gov.

The field hearing will also be streamed live here on the House Natural Resources Committee’s YouTube channel.

The Western Republicans’ hydropower forums are taking place just days after the Wall Street Journal published this editorial explaining how removal of the four lower Snake River dams would make electricity far costlier and harm local residents, with the salmon seeing little benefit.

The Family Farm Alliance in April transmitted this letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, requesting Biden Administration Cabinet-level intervention in ongoing mediation talks involving the Lower Snake River dams.

Western Farmer-Stockman in April also ran this guest editorial by Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen explaining why Pacific Northwest ag interests should be better integrated into the river talks.

“Altering operations along the Columbia and Lower Snake Rivers, whether through shifted flow regimes or dam removal, would send ripple effects throughout the broader agricultural community served by this system,” said Mr. Keppen. “The multiple-year drought we have faced in many parts of the West – coupled with other domestic and global developments – has already affected the availability and price of food for many Americans.”

We will continue to keep you informed on this and other developments impacting Western irrigated agriculture.
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