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Republicans plan to block Biden admin from tearing down hydroelectric dams

By Stew Davidson
|
January 25, 2024
A group of House Republicans, led by Congressman Dan Newhouse, are introducing the so-called DAMN Act to prevent the federal government from demolishing four hydroelectric dams in Washington state. This action comes in response to environmental concerns about declining salmon populations, prompting studies into the breaching of the Lower Snake River dams, as FOX News reported.

Legislation aims to protect vital hydroelectric resources

Known as the Defending Against Manipulative Negotiators (DAMN) Act, the proposed legislation seeks to preserve the integrity of these crucial infrastructures.

Spearheaded by Newhouse, the bill has garnered support from other prominent GOP figures, emphasizing the critical nature of these dams to the region's energy and agricultural sectors.

Newhouse expressed strong disapproval of the Biden Administration's approach, accusing it of a hypocritical stance on green energy.

He highlighted the administration's contradiction in advocating for sustainable solutions while considering the dismantling of these clean energy sources.

Biden administration's settlement raises concerns

The backdrop of this legislative push is a recent settlement between the White House and various environmental groups and tribes.

This agreement, which includes the study of potential dam breaching, has stirred unease among industry representatives and local communities dependent on the dams.

Despite the White House's commitment to maintaining energy reliability and other services, the possibility of breaching the dams as part of environmental conservation efforts has led to widespread apprehension.

Critics argue that such a move could have far-reaching negative impacts on local economies and the nation's climate goals.

The economic and environmental stakes of dam removal

Constructed between the 1960s and 1970s, the dams not only facilitate barge transportation but also significantly contribute to the state's clean energy output.

Stakeholders, including the Tri-City Development Council, emphasize the dams' role in meeting high electricity demands and supporting the region's economic framework.

The potential removal of the dams poses a threat to climate objectives, as it could necessitate the substitution of hydropower with less eco-friendly alternatives. This change could lead to a substantial increase in carbon emissions, undermining national efforts to combat climate change.

Impact on agriculture and transportation sectors

Agriculture, a major industry in Washington, relies heavily on the dams.

The Washington Association of Wheat Growers and other agricultural bodies have voiced their support for the DAMN Act, stressing the dams' importance in sustaining the sector's viability and competitiveness.

The possible dismantling of the dams threatens not only the state's energy landscape but also its agricultural prowess. The transport of significant portions of the nation's wheat and other crops depends on the waterways supported by these dams, making their preservation a matter of national concern.

Widespread support and opposition to the DAMN Act

The DAMN Act has received backing from various industry and agricultural groups, who highlight the dams' indispensable role in their operations.

However, it faces opposition from environmental advocates, who argue for the breaching of the dams to protect and restore salmon populations.

Despite the controversy, supporters of the DAMN Act remain steadfast, advocating for the continued operation of the dams. They argue that the ecological and economic benefits provided by these structures far outweigh the arguments for their removal.

Future of the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative in jeopardy

Additionally, the legislation introduced by House Republicans seeks to halt the implementation of the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative.

This program, supported by tribes, environmental groups, and regional states, calls for a more definitive plan for the removal of the dams, further intensifying the debate.

As the discussion unfolds, the White House has yet to respond publicly to the introduction of the DAMN Act. The fate of the Lower Snake River dams hangs in the balance, with significant implications for the region's future.

Conclusion

  • A group of House Republicans, led by Rep. Dan Newhouse, has introduced the DAMN Act to prevent the federal government from demolishing four hydroelectric dams in Washington.
  • The legislation comes in response to environmental concerns and a recent legal settlement between the White House and environmental groups, which includes studying the potential breaching of the dams.
  • The DAMN Act aims to preserve these infrastructures, crucial for the region's energy production, transportation, and agriculture.
  • The possible removal of the dams is contentious, with implications for the local economy, national climate goals, and the agricultural sector.
  • The DAMN Act has garnered support from various industry groups but faces opposition from environmental advocates.
  • The future of the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative, a program advocating for the removal of the dams, is also at stake.
  • The White House has not yet responded to the introduction of the DAMN Act, leaving the fate of the dams and the broader implications for the region uncertain.