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Commentaries and editorials

Feds Request Comments
on Future of River Dams

by Marissa Luck
The Daily News, December 21, 2016

Lower Granite Dam impounds Snake River waters nearly forty miles to the Idaho border. Three federal agencies are requesting public comment during a scoping period on the future of the Columbia and Snake River hydroelectric system, including the possibility of removing four dams on the lower Snake River.

During a scoping period that ends Jan. 17, the public will have an opportunity to ask questions and weigh in on dams' operational benefits, and impact on air, water, land, fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered salmon. As part of a five-year review, comments received during the scoping period will shape what's included in an environmental impact statement on the river power system.

The new environmental analysis comes after a federal judge in March rejected the agencies' most recent plan for protecting threatened and endangered salmon in the Snake and Columbia river systems.

The judge ordered Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to create a new plan for protecting endangered and threatened salmon runs by March 2018. (That was later expended to December 2018). And he called on the agencies to look at all approaches to managing the federal power system, including dam removal, in an environmental impact statement. The federal EIS is expected to be complete by March 2021.

More than 80 percent of Cowlitz PUD's low-cost electricity comes from the Federal Columbia River Power System, so the system's future could have a big impact on the availability and price of power. About 25 cents of every dollar Cowlitz PUD pays to Bonneville goes toward its fish and wildlife program, much of which is spent to help fish passing safely through the dams.

The utility is encouraging ratepayers to review the information available at www.crso.info and submit a comment during the scoping period. Comments can be emailed to comment@crso.info or mailed to: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: CRSO EIS; PO Box 2870, Portland, OR 97208-2870.

Related Sites:
Agencies Seek Public ‘Scoping' Comments For EIS Related To New Basin Salmon/Steelhead Recovery Plan by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin 10/7/16
Federal Court Again Rejects Columbia Basin Salmon/Steelhead Recovery Plan; Orders New BiOp By 2018 by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin 5/6/16


Marissa Luck
Federal Agencies Seek Gorge Community Input on Wild Salmon Restoration Plan
The Daily News, December 21, 2016

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