Washington lawmakers question CEQ on dam litigation settlement

Four members of Washington’s congressional delegation have sent a letter to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) questioning how the U.S. government plans to finance the commitments outlined in the lower Snake River dams settlement agreement, which was released last month.

The letter was sent by Reps. Kim Schrier, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Dan Newhouse.

“Some language in the settlement document does not adequately delineate or describe a
commitment’s source of funding. For example, the document states that the actions taken under the Mid-Columbia Restoration Plan ‘will likely require at least doubling current levels of mitigation and restoration funding,’ which the Six Sovereigns have indicated ‘would likely cost upwards of $200M/year in additional funding over the next ten years.’ USG (the U.S. government) has not provided the programs or federal agencies that would supply this funding, nor the appropriations requests needed to fulfill these commitments,” the letter states.

The legislators also questioned what Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) obligations are regarding the proposed Tribal energy program, and how those obligations might impact public utility rates and low-income ratepayers.

“We would also like to emphasize that some stakeholders who rely on the dams, such as utilities, navigation, transportation, recreation, and agricultural interests in our districts, have conveyed to us considerable frustration and a sense of being excluded from the mediation process that yielded this agreement … As the implementation of many of these commitments rely on cooperation from those outside of the agreement, we strongly urge the Administration to engage in a more robust and transparent manner with all stakeholders in the region as they move forward to next steps in this settlement process,” the letter says.

Read the letter here.