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house Bill H.R. 3144

Keeping the Columbia River Dams Operating Into 2022

Argument in favor

This bipartisan bill ensures that the Pacific Northwest will continue to benefit from the Columbia and Snake River dams’ electricity generation, flood control, and irrigation while steps continue to be taken to protect endangered salmon and steelhead based on the Endangered Species Act supplemental opinion.

Luke's Opinion
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04/25/2018
As written this looks pretty nice. However the description is very brief and isn’t giving us much to go on. If they can provide clean energy and work well for the environment then great! I see no downside! But the info presented definitely isn’t telling the whole story, come on countable, give us some more to go on here.
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Ty's Opinion
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04/25/2018
I hope the day comes before I die that other forms of renewables and small form hydro can replace the capacity of the Columbia and Snake dams so that I can experience firsthand the majesty of Cellilo falls. Until then the dams are a vital part of the Northwest economy.
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SneakyPete's Opinion
···
04/22/2018
This bipartisan bill ensures that the Pacific Northwest will continue to benefit from the Columbia and Snake River dams’ electricity generation, flood control, and irrigation while steps continue to be taken to protect endangered salmon and steelhead based on the Endangered Species Act supplemental opinion. Why not, pray tell, wouldn’t we want to keep them operational folks? Any good reason why not? 4*24*18.
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Argument opposed

The dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers should either be breached and removed or allow increased flow now without a final Endangered Species Act opinion. Despite the supposed benefits dams provide they do too much damage to endangered fish populations.

Chimmy's Opinion
···
04/25/2018
As a resident of WA State, I want my rivers free if dams and the habitat returned to it's natural state. We have to invest in wind and solar as our top renewable energy sources.
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PhilAlban's Opinion
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04/25/2018
Appreciate the renewable energy provided by the dam, but there are *many* reasonable options (wind & solar) that are less intrusive/harmful and can be more efficient.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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04/25/2018
I live in WA and this is the very definition of disingenuous legislation. This Republican is trying to use national level legislation to override the state desire. The state and the First People’s tribal nations want take the dams out in favor of in-stream turbine generation which doesn’t disrupt the fish habitat or damage the river the way dams do. This Republican wants to block that at the national level so that then the state GOP can then claim that the budget surpluses means we can cut taxes. That ‘surplus’ only exist if the money that’s earmarked for this project of removing the old dams and installing the new in stream turbines is blocked by this legislation. She wants to stop a good project that upgrades our hydroelectric generation to modern environmentally friendly technology that everybody wants to manufacture a GOP excuse to cut taxes. Follow the money. At the end you find the GOP liars.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3144?

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.

Impact

Communities affected by the Columbia and Snake River dams through their flood control, irrigation, and electricity generation; endangered salmon and steelhead.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3144

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would reduce net direct spending by $16 million over the 2019-2028 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) introduced this bill to protect the Columbia and Snake River dams and ensure dams and fish can coexist:

“Hydropower helped build the Northwest, and still today it offers us clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable energy to help power our homes, businesses, and communities. I’m proud to see this bipartisan legislation pass the House Natural Resource Committee today and look forward to it coming before the full House in the coming weeks. My goal is to ensure that dams and fish can co-exist, and this Biological Opinion provides a collaborative approach so we can continue to improve technology and fish recovery efforts, while supporting the clean energy produced on our dams. I’m proud to lead this effort along with the support of organizations and people all across Eastern Washington.”

House Democrats largely opposed this bill, writing in its committee report:

“H.R. 3144 would mandate the use of an illegal operation plan for the Federal Columbia River Power System. The operation plan in question violates our nation’s bedrock environmental laws, threatens the existence of several endangered salmon and steelhead populations, jeopardizes thousands of jobs in the commercial and recreational fishing industries and the outdoor recreation economy, contradicts judicial rulings, and harms tribal fishing interests through the Pacific Northwest.”

This legislation passed the House Natural Resource Committee on a 23-17 vote and has the support of eight bipartisan cosponsors, including seven Republicans and one Democrat.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: nesne.lkraM / iStock)

Official Title

To provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System pursuant to a certain operation plan for a specified period of time, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Environment and Public Works
  • The house Passed April 25th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 225 Yea / 189 Nay
      house Committees
      Water, Oceans, and Wildlife
      Committee on Natural Resources
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Water Resources and Environment
    IntroducedJune 29th, 2017

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    As written this looks pretty nice. However the description is very brief and isn’t giving us much to go on. If they can provide clean energy and work well for the environment then great! I see no downside! But the info presented definitely isn’t telling the whole story, come on countable, give us some more to go on here.
    Like (26)
    Follow
    Share
    As a resident of WA State, I want my rivers free if dams and the habitat returned to it's natural state. We have to invest in wind and solar as our top renewable energy sources.
    Like (39)
    Follow
    Share
    Appreciate the renewable energy provided by the dam, but there are *many* reasonable options (wind & solar) that are less intrusive/harmful and can be more efficient.
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    I hope the day comes before I die that other forms of renewables and small form hydro can replace the capacity of the Columbia and Snake dams so that I can experience firsthand the majesty of Cellilo falls. Until then the dams are a vital part of the Northwest economy.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    I live in WA and this is the very definition of disingenuous legislation. This Republican is trying to use national level legislation to override the state desire. The state and the First People’s tribal nations want take the dams out in favor of in-stream turbine generation which doesn’t disrupt the fish habitat or damage the river the way dams do. This Republican wants to block that at the national level so that then the state GOP can then claim that the budget surpluses means we can cut taxes. That ‘surplus’ only exist if the money that’s earmarked for this project of removing the old dams and installing the new in stream turbines is blocked by this legislation. She wants to stop a good project that upgrades our hydroelectric generation to modern environmentally friendly technology that everybody wants to manufacture a GOP excuse to cut taxes. Follow the money. At the end you find the GOP liars.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    Dams like this do too much damage to endangered fish populations at a time when we can ill afford to lose diversity or local fishing jobs. There are other ways to provide electricity, irrigation, and flood control.
    Like (11)
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    I'm torn on this one. Rewilding rivers has shown benefit to fish & wildlife populations (& come on fishermen & hunters, this is not just a liberal position). On the other hand global warming is already causing wild fluctuations in rainfall/snowfall, floods this minute, drought the next. Water shortages are forecast as the temperatures go up. I want to see more about this bill. Is there good planning for floodwater mitigation, are there plans to pool excess water where it can be saved & used. The needs of people & wildlife can dovetail (especially when the wildlife is so tasty)
    Like (11)
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    This bipartisan bill ensures that the Pacific Northwest will continue to benefit from the Columbia and Snake River dams’ electricity generation, flood control, and irrigation while steps continue to be taken to protect endangered salmon and steelhead based on the Endangered Species Act supplemental opinion. Why not, pray tell, wouldn’t we want to keep them operational folks? Any good reason why not? 4*24*18.
    Like (7)
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    Washington States people invest in wind, solar, geothermal and dams to help protect farming and the fishing industries. It is the chemical used in farming and run off that needs to be improved to protect the environment. You can not keep going down the path of more pollution, at some point the food you eat, will kill you. Forget that, it already does.
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    Find another less environmentally damaging energy source.
    Like (5)
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    Let’s start with the way this is written . My understanding is the he Snake River dam is not functioning let’s look at what can be done like this In the debate over the survival of endangered Columbia River salmon and the sustainability of dams in the Pacific Northwest, a new study suggests four hydroelectric dams on the Lower Snake River in Eastern Washington could be removed and effectively replaced with other clean energy resources at little cost to taxpayers. Right now tax payers are paying for dams that are not functioning well. The four dams on the Lower Snake River produce about ((((4 percent ))))))of the Pacific Northwest’s electricity. https://www.google.com/amp/www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/apr/08/replacing-power-produced-by-four-snake-river-dams-/%3famp-content=amp
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    This is quite a pickle. On one hand, I'm all for protection of our wildlife so hunting and fishing can flourish. On the other, people want power for their homes. You can't have it both ways. You've got to pick the least environmentally impacting method. Solar doesn't produce enough power for large cities unless everyone had their own panels. That leaves a lot of ground covered, killing vegetation and the animals that live on it. Windmills kill birds and you need quite a few to power a city. Dams address this issue by maximizing power output with minimal impact. I say leave the Dams in place, but incorporates some protective measures to keep the fish from being sucked into them.
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    Those dams are an environmental disaster
    Like (3)
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    We have done enough damage to our environment. It is time to start doing something to heal our earth.
    Like (3)
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    NAY!!! DO NO FURTHER DAMAGE!!!BREACH THOSE DAMNED DAMS NOW!!!!
    Like (2)
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    Dams will operate just fine - call this bill what it is : corporate welfare for power companies.
    Like (2)
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    They do more harm than good!
    Like (2)
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    Much as I like to fish, removing dams from the Colombia and the Snake are not worth it. We need electricity and flood control. The North West will never again be a wilderness the way Louis and Clark saw it. There are too many people there for that.
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    This is a very old fashioned and expensive, both environmentaly and monetarily way to produce power.
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    Hardly grounds for bipartisanship and apparently another dodge by FOP Lawmakers to consider the outcome if this legislation upon the taxpayers.
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