This bill would require the operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) in a manner consistent with the 2014 Endangered Species Act supplemental biological opinion protecting salmon, steelhead, and other fish species on the Columbia River until the later of: September 30, 2022; or the date upon which the final biological opinion is issued and in effect with no further judicial review.
The FCRPS is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide hydroelectric power to the Pacific Northwest in addition to flood control and irrigation (the dams have fish ladders to accommodate migrating salmon). In March 2017 a federal district court judge ordered that federal agencies increase increase spill (ie how much water is allowed to flow through the dam without generating power) over Columbia and Snake River dams starting in April 3, 2018 increasing power costs by an estimated $40 million.
Those agencies could amend portions of the supplemental opinion and operate the FCRPS accordingly with such amendments if all the entities determine: 1) the amendments are necessary for public safety or transmission and grid reliability; or 2) the actions, operations, or other requirements that the amendments would remove are no longer warranted.
No structural modification, action, study, or engineering plan that restricts electrical generation at any FCRPS hydroelectric dam or that limits navigation on the Snake River in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho could proceed unless such proposal is specifically and expressly authorized by an Act of Congress.