Although Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler (R-9) wrote in a statement that “this should be the end of it,” Washington Policy Center Environmental Director Todd Myers told Lens that the EIS will “absolutely not” end the debate over the dams. Your email address will not be published. Little Goose Lock and Dam. Trump administration directive to compress EIS timeline — Oct. 23, 2018. Utilities warn natural gas ban will raise rates, threaten grid, Wildfire bill draws praise from stakeholders, © 2021 The Business Institute of Washington. The four hydroelectric dams were built from the 1960s to the 1970s between Pasco and Pomeroy, allowing barges to operate all the way to Lewiston, 400 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Representatives Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler praised the EIS in a joint release Friday. Because it has never before been considered in detail, and given the intense public interest in and strongly held views on – both pro and con – breaching the four Lower Snake River dams, a few additional remarks about how the CRSO FEIS analyzes MO3 are in order. A U.S. District Court judge in 2016 issued a ruling mandating that a new draft environmental impact statement (EIS) conducted by the three federal agencies overseeing the lower Snake River dams “may well require” breaching them to help salmon recovery efforts. a power blackout, nearly one in every seven years.” The least expensive path toward replacing hydropower with other energy would cost roughly $200 million a year. The final report was similar to a draft plan issued in February, which concluded that removing the four dams would destabilize the power grid, increase overall greenhouse emissions and more than double the risk of regional power outages. Your Action Is Needed to Save them! It will not help the Southern Resident orcas and the fishing communities that depend on those salmon. A call to breach Eastern Washington's Snake River dams was rejected in the initial draft of a court-ordered environmental study released Friday by the federal government. This latest filing calls into question the legality of the 2020 final EIS and ROD that chose not to remove the four lower Snake River dams, and says the need for a major overhaul of the Northwest federal hydroelectric system has never been more urgent. further claims made in the EIS concerning ramping, reserves and the assigned dollar values. Born and raised in Bellevue, he’s been involved in the news industry since working at his high school newspaper. The evidence is clear, to save money, save salmon and save orcas, breaching … TJ Martinell is a native Washingtonian and award-winning journalist. Last year, state lawmakers passed a bill mandating that utilities provide 100 percent carbon-neutral energy by 2035 and carbon-free energy by 2045. The Snake River rises in western Wyoming, then flows through the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho, the rugged Hells Canyon on the Oregon–Idaho border and the rolling Palouse Hills of Washington, emptying into the Columbia River at the Tri-Cities, Washington. The draft EIS identifies and evaluates a no-action alternative and five alternatives, one of which includes breaching the four lower Snake River dams. Breaching the dams would have major long-term benefits to fish in the Snake River because of improved rearing and migration conditions, according to the draft EIS. On February 28, the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on operations, maintenance and configurations for the 14 federal projects in the Columbia River System was released. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has developed and constructed fish cooling systems at Lower Granite and Little Goose dams to alleviate warming water concerns. And (5.) “Our constituents understand the important role the Federal Columbia River Power System plays for our way-of-life – in fact, we have always said that our rivers and the benefits they provide are the lifeblood of our region,” the representatives noted. Sign up below to receive our weekly newsletter full of the latest news. Attorney James Buchal, who represents the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association in the U.S. District Court’s BiOp case, as well as Simon’s injunction to provide more spill at the lower Snake and lower Columbia river dams, suggested at the afternoon public meeting that the agencies should consider the “God Squad” itself as an alternative. Required fields are marked *. We find that the limitations of dam operation on the Snake River along with the negative effects of reservoir drawdown, demonstrate the near infeasibility of a peaking power scenario. And it will not fulfill the U.S. government’s commitments to tribal nations. That analysis instead advocated habitat restoration. Did anyone really think that in the presidency of Donald Trump, they would do a 180? On top of that, the loss of the dams would eliminate the use of low-emission barges in favor of freight or trucking, raising freight rates as well as increasing road usage. This EIS looked at how the 14 dams in the Columbia River System affect fish survival. On Friday, the federal government released it’s Final Environmental Impact Statement regarding the four lower Snake River dams. According to the EIS, removing the dams would remove 47,926 acres of irrigated land. DEIS is a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and it is being developed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration, and the Bureau of Reclamation to assess the impact of the 14 federal dams on the survival of wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia-Snake River System. The Clearwater was closed to steelhead fishing in the fall of 2019 due to poor returns, and returning adult salmon and steelhead numbers in the whole Columbia River Basin were some of the lowest on record. Snake River dams continue to be in jeopardy, and Tri-Citians should comment on report protecting them. In the report, the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and BPA called for spilling more water over the dams at strategic times to help fish migrate faster. The DEIS identifies and evaluates a no-action alternative and five alternatives, one of which includes breaching the four lower Snake River dams. Bayer Rolls Out Program Focused On Carbon Smart Farming Practices, Justice Department Investigating Possible Dean Foods Deal, Nicole Harder Prepares To Travel To FFA National Convention, Perdue Not Sure If Coronavirus Will Impact Phase One, UW: Water Situation Across Washington Looks Normal. They picked one. A U.S. District Court judge in 2016 issued a ruling mandating that a new draft environmental impact statement (EIS) conducted by the three federal agencies overseeing the lower Snake River dams “may well require” breaching them to help salmon recovery efforts. The draft EIS includes consideration of removing the four lower Snake River dams. The plan guides dam management on the Columbia River System, which includes the four controversial Lower Snake River dams — Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and … As efforts continue in favor of breaching the lower Snake River dams to aid salmon and Southern Resident Killer whale recovery, NOAA Fisheries – also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service – is close to finishing a new analysis of the dams as part of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared by three federal agencies. However, there are ongoing concerns with the baseline stability provided by hydropower but not other clean energy sources with current technology. Today’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Columbia and Snake river dams will not restore Snake River salmon. The Corps’ own conclusion: dam breaching is the best way to recover Snake River salmon, a conclusion that remains valid today. The PNWA also applauded the final EIS’ opposition to dam breaching in a news release. “I think that’s a tradeoff that’s not addressed in the EIS or by the environmental community,” he said. However, opponents have emphasized the many benefits provided by the dams, including a barging system, recreational opportunities and carbon-free hydropower that makes up roughly seven percent of total state electricity. February 28, 2020. If you have a story idea for the Washington Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail [email protected], Your email address will not be published. The Lower Snake River Dams Are In Jeopardy. Federal Agencies Sign EIS, Keeping Snake River Dams. “For the past several years, scientists and engineers have studied the impacts of the federally owned and operated dams on our economy, environment, and protected species and came to the conclusion many of us recognize: The benefits of the dams along the mighty Columbia and Snake Rivers are far too precious for our region to go without. In the EIS, they identified alternatives for operating the dam system. A report released in January that was commissioned by the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association found that removing the lower four dams on the Snake River would threaten the existence of at least 1,100 farms in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Now, they’re ready to sue. Dam-Breaching Alternative. Commentdocument.getElementById("comment").setAttribute( "id", "ab257fcf878b1f0d135cb8c0b786e3fd" );document.getElementById("f22391d812").setAttribute( "id", "comment" ); Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The EIS also noted that breaching the LSRD would have major adverse effects on transportation. The outcome of the EIS will affect some of the West’s most historic steelhead rivers, including Snake River tributaries like the Grande Ronde River in Oregon and the Clearwater River in Idaho. It also took into account how removing or altering the four lower Snake River dams could cause social and economic changes, including for irrigation and barging. Meanwhile, both the House and Senate operating budget still provide half of the $750,00 appropriated in the 2019-21 budget to fund a study of removing the dams. The one they picked does not involve breaching dams on the lower Snake. The DEIS is the result of more than three years of regional collaboration between the lead federal agencies and more than 30 Tribes and state, federal and county agencies in this National Environmental Policy Act process. The draft environmental impact … At 1,078 miles (1,735 km) long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, in turn the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. The four dams in particular question are Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Granite and Lower Monumental. The US Army Corps took 7 years to complete this report at a cost of $33 million. The EIS conclusions reflect prior statements made to Lens last year by the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, which conducted an analysis as part of the EIS. The analysis was included in a court-mandated environmental impact statement (EIS), ordered as a result of ongoing litigation over the impacts of the Columbia River System Operations on endangered salmon. On February 11th, Oregon Governor Kate Brown sent a letter to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, emphasizing removal of the Lower Snake River dams as the necessary long-term solution for … A record of decision on the plan announced Friday will be released in September. The Snake River dams in Washington would remain in place under a final study released Friday, July 31, by federal agencies.. The DEIS is required to consider the impact of the Lower Snake River dams on endangered salmon and steelhead, which have caused a dramatic decline in wild fish populations since their construction. Environmental groups blasted the decision, saying the plan will not save salmon and will harm Puget Sound orcas that feed on the fish. Conservation and fishing groups say the federal government’s newest plans to manage dams and protect salmon is inadequate. A “zero-carbon” energy portfolio would cost $527 million annually, money that Myers said could be invested in salmon recovery. The Snake River dams in Washington would stay in place under the federal government’s preferred plan for the Columbia River System. Get The Latest News, Straight To Your Inbox. Further, the EIS found that breaching the dams could increase GHG emissions by an additional 3.3 metric tons annually if the hydropower were replaced with natural gas. Final EIS Calls For Snake River Dams To Remain. A new EIS released Feb. 28 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) concludes that while breaching them would aid salmon, the move would lead to blackouts, cost hundreds of millions of dollars a year to replace the hydropower and increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Now, the feds have just come out with a new BiOp and a new environmental impact statement (EIS). This could be the sixth time federal hydropower plans for the Columbia and Snake River dams end up in court. The final environmental impact statement, released in 2002, evaluated four alternatives to help lower Snake River fall chinook get past the dams: 1) the existing condition; 2) maximum transport of juvenile salmon; 3) system improvements that could be accomplished without a drawdown and 4) dam breaching. The fight over salmon and dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers could be going back to the courtroom. The public comment period for draft the EIS lasts until April 13. That would be a 10-percent increase in power-generated emissions in the Pacific Northwest. On Friday, the federal government released it’s Final Environmental Impact Statement regarding the four lower Snake River dams. The lower Snake River dams are Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite, all located in southeastern Washington. While we continue to review this final study, we are proud to see a comprehensive, science-based process come to fruition and will continue to work in Congress to ensure we keep improving upon both the efficiency of our infrastructure as well as critical fish passage and salmon survival efforts.”. River users and environmentalists are anxiously awaiting an environmental review that will consider the removal of four Lower Snake River dams. The EIS cautioned that if the dams were removed “the region would face the likelihood of a loss of load event, e.g. Earlier this week, several federal agencies signs the Environmental Impact Statement regarding management of the Columbia and Snake River systems. The Snake River is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest region in the United States. Advocates for breaching the dams have long argued that their removal is necessary to help several endangered salmon species that must navigate the dam system. As Farmers Wait, Republicans, Democrats Argue Over Size Of Next Relief Package, House Ag Appropriations Chair May have Misused Campaign Funds. The analysis concludes that TJ Martinell. The three agencies said they looked at balancing the needs of the environment as well as the local economy when coming up with a final decision. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent seven years studying Snake River dam removal. New EIS opposes Snake River dam removal. The new EIS noted that while “breaching of the lower Snake River projects would have major long-term beneficial effects to resident fish in the Snake River due to improved rearing and migration conditions,” it also found this scenario would threaten the state’s energy grid reliability and “has the highest adverse impacts to other resources, especially social and economic effects.”. River System affect fish survival the EIS cautioned that if the dams remove... 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