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Smiley campaign calls Sen. Murray ‘out of touch’ on Snake River dams breach report

(The Center Square) – The campaign of Tiffany Smiley, Republican challenger to longtime U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, does not agree with a final report put forward by the senator and Gov. Jay Inslee that recommends replacing the benefits of the lower Snake River dams to make breaching them possible.

The report, released Thursday, says breaching the dams is the best way to save endangered salmon runs and maintain treaty obligations with Native American tribes, so long as the benefits provided by the four giant hydroelectric dams are replaced.

Those benefits include generation of electricity to include providing back-up electricity to prevent power shortages when demand for energy is high, irrigation water for farmers, and making the Snake River navigable for barges that move crops and other products to port.

“The report makes clear that removing the dams would require Congressional action,” Elisa Carlson, communications director for the Smiley campaign, told The Center Square via email.

Congress will ultimately decide if the federally-owned dams will be removed, and would have to appropriate the funds to do so.

Carlson went on to say, “However, to believe that the benefits of those four dams can ever be replaced or mitigated shows how out of touch Patty Murray is. These dams provide clean, low-cost electricity for families and critical lifelines for our agricultural industry. Salmon can flourish without ever touching these dams. American ingenuity can find a way!”

The Center Square reached out to Murray’s office regarding Carlson’s comments but received no response.

Murray issued a same-day statement when the report was released, and there was some common ground with what Carlson said.

“Furthermore, it should not be lost on anyone that breach would ultimately require Congressional authorization and strong bipartisan support – for that to become a credible option, the benefits of the dams must be sustained or mitigated,” Murray said.

She continued, “Sustaining or replacing the benefits of the dams will require several urgent undertakings: we need to do a lot more to transition to clean and renewable energy sources, we have to invest in the region’s infrastructure to lower the cost of shipping goods to market, and we have to invest in water infrastructure and irrigation to support our producers in the face of a worsening climate crisis.”

First elected to the Senate in 1992 as a self-proclaimed “mom in tennis shoes,” Murray, 71, is seeking her sixth term.

Smiley, 41, a former triage nurse, is a mother of three who has highlighted her advocacy for her husband, Scotty, a military veteran who was blinded in an explosion while serving in Iraq in 2005.

Murray and Smiley both advanced from the Aug. 2 primary to the general election on Nov. 8.