Lawmakers battle over bill to prevent breaching of dams

first_imgSPOKANE — Three Republican U.S. House members are criticizing Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and other lawmakers for opposing their legislation that would prevent the breaching of four dams on the Snake River to restore endangered salmon runs.The three Republicans from the state of Washington support a bipartisan bill that seeks to maintain existing dam operations until at least 2022.Murray and two Democratic House members from the Seattle area are pushing an environmental study to examine alternatives for salmon recovery, including breaching one or more of the dams to aid fish migration to and from the Pacific Ocean.“It’s unthinkable that Seattle Democrats are putting politics over science when it comes to improving fish recovery efforts,” Reps. Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler said in a release this week. “Millions of dollars have been spent studying these dams and improvements have been made to improve fish survival rates.”The skirmish is the latest in a decades-long battle that pits environmentalists against users of the Columbia-Snake river system.Fish advocates blame the four dams, built in the 1960s and 1970s, with decimating iconic salmon runs in the river system. But supporters of the dams point to the benefits of hydropower and navigation provided by the dams, and say fish ladders and other methods of transporting salmon past the dams are helping restore the runs.Murray sent a letter on Tuesday to Senate and House leaders criticizing Newhouse’s bill that supports existing dam operations.The letter, also signed by Democratic U.S. Reps. Adam Smith and Pramila Jayapal, contends Newhouse’s bill would circumvent a process to consider all uses of the river system. Managers must consider salmon recovery, fisheries, irrigation, navigation, power generation, flood protection and recreation, they said.last_img read more