The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration released the Columbia River Systems Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The report evaluates recommendations on the future operations of the federal hydro system, including breaching the lower Snake River Dams.
As Washingtonians deal with the coronavirus and the ripple effects it’s having on business, education and daily life – reliable power is needed more than ever to deal with the crisis. Our thoughts and prayers go out the hundreds of families effected, those who are quarantined, hospitals treating patients with COVID-19 and the thousands of school children who are forced to stay home.
Now more than ever the importance of the lower Snake River dams becomes clear.
That’s why Tri-Cities leaders including Benton PUD, Franklin PUD, City of Richland Energy Services, Benton REA, Energy Northwest, Big Bend, TRIDEC, Port of Pasco, Port of Benton, Pasco Chamber, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Visit Tri-Cities and many other are encouraging people across our region to participate in a series of upcoming public comment opportunities. The coronavirus has shifted the planned public meetings to a series of phone conferences. These conferences are scheduled for six days in March including the 17th, 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th and 31st.
Learn the facts, dates, times and how you can participate by visiting Pacific Northwest Waterways Association & Northwest RiverPartners sites:
All teleconferences begin at 4 p.m. Pacific / 5 p.m. Mountain time and are scheduled to end at 8 p.m. Pacific / 9 p.m. Mountain time. Participants will be able to comment (three-minute limit) and listen to others’ comments. For call-in numbers, visit the CRSO Submit Your Comment page.
Columbia River System Operations EIS Resources:
Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA) Resources:
The Columbia-Snake River System provides 90% of renewable power in the Pacific Northwest.
Breaching the dams would disproportionately affect communities that can least afford it. The 10 counties most affected by this scenario are primarily rural areas in which 1 in 5 people are already at or below the federal poverty level.
Juvenile fish survival rates past each of the eight federal dams on the system are between 95% and 98%.
The four Lower Snake River dams alone provide enough clean energy to power 1.87 million homes.
The river system reduces traffic congestion and pollution. In 2018, it would have taken 38,966 rail cars or 149,870 semi-trucks to move the cargo that was barged on the Snake River.
Eliminating the clean power and efficient transportation provided by the Lower Snake River dams would add to climate change by increasing cumulative carbon emissions equivalent to building a coal-fired power plant like the one in Boardman, Oregon, every five or six years.
You are invited to review and provide comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and the Preferred Alternative for the operations, maintenance and configuration of the Columbia River System, comprised of 14 federal dam and reservoir projects in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the draft EIS documents the review of potential actions and discloses the environmental effects of taking those actions.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration developed the draft EIS in response to the need to review and update management of the System, including evaluating impacts to resources in the context of new information and changed conditions in the Columbia River basin and in response to a court order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.
The Preferred Alternative detailed in the draft EIS is a suite of operational, maintenance and structural measures to allow the agencies to meet their congressionally authorized purposes, the Purpose and Need statement and EIS objectives, including those to benefit species listed as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The agencies will respond to substantive comments on the draft EIS in the final EIS to be released this summer.
Short for the Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the CRSO DEIS is our first look at the comprehensive government analysis of the Northwest’s federally-operated hydro system. As part of the analysis, federal agencies were tasked with examining the lower Snake River dams—specifically, their impact on salmon and what purpose they serve for our region.
The study considered a range of preferred alternatives, including breaching all four dams. In the draft conclusion, the agencies recommended a combination of the alternatives to help communities and fish & wildlife. They also found that dam breaching was not the best alternative for our region.
If we truly want to save salmon, we need to heal our oceans. If we genuinely want our clean energy future to include everyone, we need it to be affordable. To do both, the Northwest needs the lower Snake River dams. To save our access to clean, affordable electricity, we need to unite together and ask that the federal agencies and the region recognize the true value of our hydro system. Our actions, or inactions, will shape and define the future of energy in the Northwest. There is perhaps no more critical time than now to get involved.