(The Center Square) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was joined by Congressman Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Senator James Risch, R-Idaho, in questioning the White House Council on Environmental Quality, or CEQ, about community engagement methodology regarding ongoing projects in the Columbia River Basin.
“In March 2023, after months of confidential mediation sessions involving the defendants and plaintiffs in National Wildlife Federation et al. v. National Marine Fisheries Service et al., FMCS, on behalf of CEQ, announced public listening sessions to provide members of the public an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns about the future of the Columbia-Snake River System with representatives from the U.S. Government,” the letter from the legislators to the Biden administration’s CEQ laid out.
Legislators also appear worried the Biden administration’s CEQ isn’t representing those constituents’ needs either, calling this letter “their latest effort to hold the Biden administration accountable to the agriculture, power, transportation, and many other stakeholders who rely on the benefits of the Lower Snake River dams for their livelihoods.”
As part of this process, there have also been calls to remove up to four hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River Basin, as previously reported by The Center Square, which could cost upwards of ten billion dollars.
The Columbia River Basin alone produces 40% of the United States’ hydroelectric power and consists of some 258,000 square miles of land, much of which is agricultural.
If the removal of those dams moves forward, it could have widespread impacts on every constituent in the region, and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers wants to make sure those constituents have a voice in this process.