A bill seeking to stymie salmon recovery in the Columbia-Snake Rivers received a House Congressional hearing October 12th. Spearheaded by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, H.R. 3144 would put in place the illegal 2014 Salmon Plan ruled invalid by Judge Simon last year, rollback the court-ordered expansion of spill, and derail the ongoing agency efforts to develop new analyses and recovery alternatives—including dam removal—to restore wild salmon in the basin. If that weren’t enough, the bill also prevents federal agencies from even studying dam removal or spilling additional water at the dams, a very necessary and effective measure for giving young salmon an easier ride down the river during the spring migration to the ocean. Read a fact sheet about the bill here.
Salmon advocates were allowed one witness at a table of utility industry executives who refused even to acknowledge that the Columbia and Snake River dams harm wild salmon and steelhead runs. Dam proponents, including utility representatives and Rep. McMorris-Rodgers herself, claimed salmon were doing better today than before the dams. Did they somehow miss the headlines this summer on the dismally low runs and shut down fisheries?
Liz Hamilton, Executive Director for the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, did a great job speaking on behalf of fish and fishing people. She set the record straight on the impacts of dams on wild salmon & steelhead and the absolute necessity for spilling additional water over the dams. She spoke forcefully about the real-world effects of the dismally low salmon & steelhead returns this season, about lost income to fishing businesses and curtailed revenues to small towns.
There was no vote on H.R. 3144. So far, Rep. McMorris-Rodgers has not garnered widespread support for bill. We need to keep pressure on Members of Congress to actively oppose H.R. 3144 and ensure that it does not find its way through Congress to become law. Read the letter more than 35 conservation and business associations sent to Northwest members of Congress this summer opposing this bill. Please contact Rep. McMorris-Rodgers and urge her to abandon this bill.