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Apr-25-2018 16:38printcomments

Schrader Bipartisan Bill Passes House

Schrader Bill will Restore 2014 Biological Opinion for the Columbia River

Oregon rivers
Image: nwriverpartners.org

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Today, a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) to bring certainty back to the Federal Columbia River Power System passed the House with bipartisan support.

HR 3144 will put science back into the management of the hydropower operations by codifying the Obama Administration approved 2014 Biological Opinion, a collaborative agreement on how to manage the river system to protect fish and support clean, renewable energy until a new BiOp can be completed in 2022.

“Our bill finally codifies that science, not politics or the courts, should dictate the best way to balance fish recovery and the power needs in the Pacific Northwest,” said Rep. Schrader (D-OR).

“Scientific experts steeped in fish recovery and clean renewable energy will be able to do their job based on good science rather than an ideological crusade to eliminate dams on the river system resulting in the loss of our region’s best carbon free energy asset.

"Simply put, the Columbia River Power System will be managed according to the 2014 Obama Administration approved biological opinion until a new BiOp can be completed by 2022, saving ratepayers millions of dollars.

"I am pleased to have worked with Rep. McMorris Rodgers, and our Pacific Northwest colleagues, on this bill to bring science back into the equation for our Oregon and Pacific Northwest Salmon recovery efforts.”

“Dams and fish can coexist, and after more than two decades in the courtroom, let’s let scientists, not judges, manage our river system and get to work to further improve fish recovery efforts,” said McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

“When the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, our dams provide critical baseload energy to power homes and businesses all across Eastern Washington and the Pacific Northwest. Not only that, they provide transportation and irrigation benefits for our farmers, flood control for our communities, and recreational opportunities that fuel our economy.

"This isn’t about the merits of protecting salmon, we all agree on that. This is about providing certainty and letting experts and scientists in the region, who know the river best, work collaboratively to meet that goal. I’m proud to usher this legislation through the House,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers said.

In March of 2017, the U.S. District Court issued an order requiring federal agencies to increase spill over the Columbia and Snake River dams.

This order, which formally began on April 2nd, is expected to cost NW ratepayers roughly $40 million, while many scientists contend that spill leads to increased dissolved nitrogen and other gases in the water, killing fish.

Since the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) started tracking fish returns in the 1930’s, fish returns have steadily increased and are currently at all-time highs, largely attributed to an increase in collaboration and technology as this legislation will continue.

This bipartisan legislation was introduced in June of 2017 and has received overwhelming local support from diverse groups and interests including ports, unions, river users, power groups, and other important stakeholders. You can find letters of support here.

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©2018 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.


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