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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

Tri-City-area utilities support proposed law to save Snake dams

In this 2013 aerial file photo, the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River is seen near Pasco, Wash. (Bob Brawdy / Tri-City Herald)
In this 2013 aerial file photo, the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River is seen near Pasco, Wash. (Bob Brawdy / Tri-City Herald)
By Annette Cary Tri-City Herald

Three Tri-City-area utilities are supporting federal legislation that would override a federal court decision to save Snake River Dams.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse, both R-Wash., in June to keep the Federal Columbia River Biological Opinion, or BiOp, in place until 2022 or until a new BiOp is approved.

The current BiOp is a plan created by a collaboration of federal agencies, states and tribes to protect salmon while operating dams.

A federal judge has ruled that the current BiOp does not do enough to rebuild endangered salmon and steelhead populations. He ordered a review of breaching lower Snake River dams.

The Benton PUD Commission, the Franklin PUD Commission and the Benton Rural Electric Association Board each approved a resolution last week in support of the federal legislation.

“The legislation is needed to protect the Snake River dams and the renewable, carbon-free, affordable and reliable hydropower provided to our customers,” said Barry Bush, Benton Public Utility District commissioner.

Franklin PUD Commissioner Bill Gordon said that the $15.28 billion that the Bonneville Power Administration has spent on infrastructure and fish mitigation projects since 1978 have worked. They have been paid for by customers of utilities that purchase BPA power, including Tri-City-area utilities.

The Northwest Energy Coalition, an alliance of environmental and other organizations, has said the legislation is ill-timed, as adult salmon returns to the Columbia and Snake Rivers are significantly lower this year than last.

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