Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers responds to Biden’s 'dam breaching' agenda

The suit led to an agreement committing the Biden administration to restore the Basin’s salmon population but also advocated for the destruction of four Lower Snake River dams.

Published: June 20, 2024 6:04pm

(The Center Square) -

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., responded to what she called a “bad faith report” on Tuesday after the Biden administration announced plans for a Columbia River Task Force.

The White House’s announcement followed a report from the U.S. Department of the Interior on some of the impacts of federal dams on native tribes throughout the Columbia River Basin. However, according to the federal agency, it was also “based on limited sources.”

“The Department recognizes this report does not tell the complete story of the impacts that the Columbia River System and other federal dams have on the Basin Tribes,” the Dept. of Interior noted on the second page. “For one, due to the expedited timeline, this report does not include an analysis of all federal dams in the Basin or consideration of all affected Tribes. Secondly, even for those Tribes and dams included in the report, the analysis is based on limited sources and is by design written in a general manner, utilizing representative examples to support the conclusions.”

The report and creation of the new task force follow litigation last year over Columbia River System Operations. The suit led to an agreement committing the Biden administration to restore the Basin’s salmon population but also advocated for the destruction of four Lower Snake River dams.

The 73-page report is a step in fulfilling the Biden administration’s commitment. However, it struck a chord with some Republicans, notably McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Subcommittee.

“This bad faith report is just the latest in a long list of examples that prove the Biden administration’s goal has always been dam breaching,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement. “They continue to undermine the honest regional dialogue we need to determine the future of the Columbia River System with a politically-motivated report that — in their own words — ‘is based on limited sources’ and uses ‘examples to support the conclusions.’ This irresponsible means to justify an end is misguided and should not be taken seriously, especially by those who understand the tremendous benefits this critical infrastructure provides to our region.”

Washington is the nation's leading state in producing hydroelectric power, with the source accounting for 60% of its net total in generated electricity for 2023, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Additionally, Washington accounts for one-fourth to one-third of all hydroelectric generation nationwide.

Biden’s Columbia River Task Force will culminate through a partnership between the Dept. of Interior, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

Nik Blosser, who used to serve as chief of staff to Oregon’s former Gov. Kate Brown, will head the Columbia River Task Force as executive director.

“Establishing the Columbia River Task Force reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s deep commitment to the Columbia River Basin and the communities it sustains,” said Blosser in the White House’s announcement. “I am honored to lead the new Task Force, which will coordinate efforts across the federal government and partner with states and Tribal governments to restore native fish populations while ensuring communities and businesses continue to have reliable clean energy in the region.”

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