Washington ag industry pens letter to governor on dam agreement

The Washington Association of Wheat Growers has spearheaded a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee expressing concern that his administration has been privately engaging with the U.S. government and excluding agricultural stakeholders who would be directly impacted by significant changes to the river system.

“Now that the ‘package of actions and commitments’ has been daylighted, our organizations are frustrated that nobody representing the state of Washington in these private negotiations has provided any meaningful or direct briefings on the substance and the impacts to the agriculture community,” the letter states.

Concerns cited in the letter include:

  • Neither the “transportation upgrades” nor the “water supply analysis” include stakeholder engagement despite the fact any modifications to the existing systems should require agricultural input.
  • Numerous other objectives outline the “six sovereigns” as leads, representing a shift in how decisions have been made under the current river operating system.
  • While the document suggests dam removal is up to Congress, included therein is a requirement that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conduct dam breaching “feasibility studies,” not only attempting to bypass Congress but reflecting on the longstanding stated goals of removal by many of the six sovereigns.
  • There are no caps on costs particularly related to funds expended by BPA, and, therefore, what increases will be passed on to ratepayers.
  • Littered throughout the document is vague language regarding governance and dispute resolution and, therefore, little understanding of how, or even if, stakeholder input would even be considered.

Signees to the letter include the Columbia Basin Development League, Far West Agribusiness Association, Washington, Cattlemen’s Association, Washington Winegrowers Association, and the Washington State Dairy Federation. A full copy of the letter can be read here.