SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The governor of Oregon has come out in favor of removing four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in Washington state, saying that is the best way to increase endangered salmon runs.
Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, sent a letter to Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee last week, offering her support for removing the dams.
The letter outraged Washington state’s three Republican U.S. House members, who want to keep the dams, the Tri-City Herald reported.
“Governor Brown’s position is not only misguided, it is shocking and extreme,” Reps. Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler said in a Feb. 14 press release. “This is yet another example of state officials trying to interfere in the operation of critical federal infrastructure. In Congress, we will wait for the release of the comprehensive federal study of the river system before jumping to conclusions that would devastate our regional economy and local communities — including those in Oregon.”
The federal environmental study was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon of Portland.
The four dams are along the Snake River from Pasco to near Pomeroy.
Brown said it is clear the “most certain and robust solution to Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery” is removing the dams. No other action has the potential to improve overall survival two-to-three fold, she said.
The dams generate electricity, provide some irrigation and flood control and allow barges to operate all the way to Lewiston, Idaho. But they are also blamed for killing salmon and steelhead that are migrating to the ocean or back to their spawning grounds.
Washington, under an initiative spearheaded by Inslee, has been gathering information on what Northwest residents think about breaching the dams. That report is expected in March.