On Thursday, August 31, the Biden administration issued a 60-day extension to the litigations pertaining to the proposed removal of key dams within the Pacific Northwest.
On Thursday, August 31, the Biden administration issued a 60-day extension to the litigations pertaining to the proposed removal of key dams within the Pacific Northwest. Four of the dams in question are along the Lower Snake River area and would have far-reaching impacts not only to residents within the state but far beyond.
The motion to extend stated that “the private caucus participants need more time to continue the discussions and expand them to involve the other parties and amicus in this case.” Those other parties would include various tribes such as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Spokane Tribe of Indians, as well as various environmental groups represented by Earthjustice.
Amanda Goodin, Earthjustice’s supervising senior attorney, when asked about the administration's motion to delay, her response was, “I don't know what will happen at the end of the 60 days, and even if I did, those pesky confidentiality requirements."
This issue regarding the future of these dams and the impact that they have on the salmon population has been debated within Congress as well as battled in the court system for years now. Yet, the advocates for the dam removals appear unwilling to provide clear answers and data for the serious concerns their proposals raise.
Last month, key leadership within the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources issued a joint letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) addressing the committee’s request for more documentation concerning the administration’s support of removing four dams along the Lower Snake River. The letter stated, “NOAA staff displayed an abnormal commitment to evasiveness and refused to answer certain questions.” The letter continued to state that the agency’s lack of cooperation suggests that they are “deliberately engaging in obstruction to frustrate the oversight power of Congress…The American public deserves transparency.”
Washington Farm Bureau has been and remains unequivocally in favor of maintaining all dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers and they oppose the removal or breaching of any dams. WFB Governmental Affairs Coordinator, Caleb Gwerder, expressed concern about the decision to draw this litigation out further. Gwerder said that this delay is “disappointing and quite frustrating for the hundreds of thousands of lives that depend on the water and power that the dams provide.”
The dam system is vital to Washington State's ongoing power generation and distribution in the Northwestern region. Similarly, Washington's agricultural sector relies on these dams for transporting its commodities. Any disruption to the reliability and security of waterway transportation directly threatens the stability and security of Washington's second-largest economic pillar.