Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Governor Jay Inslee released the following joint statement on next steps as they pursue a joint federal-state process to establish a comprehensive solution for salmon recovery in the river basin. Columbia.
“Saving our salmon is absolutely essential to the economy and cultural heritage of Washington State. This is an urgent undertaking to which we are fully committed. In May, we called for a regional process that ensures all voices in the region are heard and takes all options into consideration, including the potential failure of the Lower Snake River dams. We have also stated that we are ready to do our part to reach a solution quickly.
“Today, we are announcing a joint federal-state process to determine whether there are reasonable ways to replace the benefits provided by the Snake River dams, sufficient to sustain as part of a salmon recovery strategy for the Snake River and the Pacific Northwest. We approach this issue with an open mind and without a predetermined decision. We both believe that for the region to move forward, now is the time to identify specific details of how the impacts of a breach may or may not be mitigated.
“We recognize the urgency of meeting this long-standing challenge as salmon runs continue to decline. Our recommendations will be completed by July 31, 2022.
“We will not be starting this process from scratch – we will be relying on important data and previous research on these topics to help guide the process. By July, we will also engage in a broad outreach to communities in the Pacific Northwest to solicit their views as part of this process. This will include close consultation and guidance by treaty-protected tribes whose unique perspectives and sovereignty each of us deeply value. We intend to consult with individuals and groups with a wide range of views on the issue of dam failure to ensure that the needs of the entire region are taken into account.
“As Senator Murray and Governor Inslee lead the joint federal-state process in Washington State, to keep all options on the table in good faith, Senator Murray will work in the other Washington state to ensure the key elements of a salmon recovery. are included as part of any Army Corps of Engineers strategy in the Water Resources Development Act for Fiscal Year 2022, including possible expert analysis by federal agencies of the violation under ‘a solution.
“Without this critical step, options that could be critical to salmon restoration could be left out of the most timely and viable federal legislative vehicle. “Every community in the Pacific Northwest knows the value and importance of our iconic salmon runs. Now is the time to take decisive action. We look forward to working with all communities in all parts of the Pacific Northwest and those on both sides of the aisle to finally establish a regional pathway to save salmon. “
The Water Resources Development Act is a biennial bill that serves as the primary licensing legislation for civil engineering projects and programs executed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Senator Murray will work to obtain authorization in the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 for an analysis of the four Lower Snake River dam projects that will assess the costs and impacts of the failure. as well as other options. Like Gov. Inslee and Senator Murray are working to provide recommendations for a comprehensive salmon recovery strategy, this legislation will significantly ensure that violation stays on the table: Historically, work on any Army Corps of Engineers project, including dams , was preceded by a study. If Senator Murray does not pursue action under this cycle of the Water Resources Development Act, the next opportunity to authorize such an analysis would be in 2024. Such an analysis is required to obtain authorization for other measures with dams, potentially including a violation, to be included in a future law on water resources development.
The joint federal-state process is the mechanism that Senator Murray and Governor Inslee will use to make their recommendation as to whether the lower Snake River dams should be breached or retained. Consultants and experts will be retained by the governor’s office to help synthesize existing information regarding what is known about the options to replace the benefits of dams, if they are removed, and what remains unknown. This assessment will be discussed with tribal governments, river users and communities, and other affected groups representing a range of perspectives regarding the four dams on the Lower Snake River. The Governor and Senator will conduct tribal consultations, as appropriate, and meet with parties representing a range of views regarding the four lower dams of the Snake River. The formal mechanisms for the public to submit written comments on the topic will be detailed at a later date. At the end of the joint federal-state process in July 2022, the governor and the senator will present their recommendations and discuss next steps with affected parties.