Rep. Newhouse To Biden Admin: ‘You’ve Crossed The Line’

Introduces DAMN Act to help protect Lower Snake River dams

Published online: Feb 16, 2024 Articles
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Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-04) led Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05), Russ Fulcher (ID-05), and Cliff Bentz (OR-02) in introducing the Defending Against Manipulative Negotiators Act(DAMN ACT) to prohibit the use of federal funds from being used in breaching or altering the Lower Snake River Dams and to prohibit the implementation of the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative.

"The Biden Administration has crossed the line with its blatant, hypocritical assault on the Lower Snake River Dams," said Rep. Dan Newhouse.

Newhouse continues, "This Administration, since its campaign, claims to advocate for green energy solutions, yet disregards that notion when told to by manipulative environmental activists who do not understand how critical the dams are to the Pacific Northwest and a clean energy future." 

"The Defending Against Manipulative Negotiators Act is the first of many pieces of legislation coming that combats this Administration’s radical, unfair, and unsubstantiated effort to destroy our dams and the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on them," Newhouse concluded. 

"The deal President Biden brokered with radical environmentalists behind closed doors will forever change the way our river system operates. It will devastate communities in Eastern Washington and across the Pacific Northwest, and it makes commitments on behalf of Congress without engaging with us. The Administration understands only Congress has the authority to breach our dams. This legislation is how we use that power to make sure that never happens while protecting our region’s way of life from the consequences of this deeply misguided plan," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

"From supporting agricultural supply chains to producing clean and affordable energy, dams along the lower Snake River provide significant benefits and support economic activity across the entire Pacific Northwest. I’m honored to join Congressman Newhouse and my colleagues from the region in introducing this legislation because breaching these dams would create more problems than it would solve," Rep. Chavez-DeRemer said.

"Removing the Lower Snake River Dams will decimate the economy, impacting industries like barging, agriculture, recreation, and energy across the Pacific Northwest." Congressman Fulcher said. "I am proud to cosponsor the DAMN Act as it prohibits the use of federal funds to breach the dams. This legislation protects crucial industries, preserves the way of life for communities across the region, and maintains a source of clean, reliable baseload energy."

"The Snake River Dams are essential to the Northwest’s energy production, navigation, and the agricultural industry. The Biden Administration’s backroom deals to remove them would be devastating to the millions of Americans who rely on them. The DAMN Act is a critical step in protecting the Pacific Northwest’s economy and I am happy to support it," said Rep. Cliff Bentz. 

The legislation is supported by 10 stakeholders, who represent large constituencies, that would be directly affected by the removal and operational breaching of the Lower Snake River Dams including the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC), Public Power Council, Inland Power, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, Northwest River Partners, National Association of Wheat Growers, Washington Association of Wheat Growers, Washington State Potato Commission, Washington State Dairy Federation, and the Columbia Basin Development League.

"The four lower Snake River dams are critically important to the economy of the Tri-Cities and the entire Pacific Northwest region. Their importance was underscored earlier this month when the Bonneville Power Administration reported record high electricity demand, which could not have been met without the power produced by these dams. Congressman Newhouse has always been a champion of the Snake River dams, and we sincerely thank him for his continued support," said Karl Dye, President & CEO, TRIDEC.

"Agricultural stakeholders appreciate the efforts of Congressman Dan Newhouse to protect one of our nation’s most important barge corridors. The bill introduced today will guard against public funds being used to advocate for breaching dams in the Columbia-Snake River system, which transports nearly 30 percent of U.S. grain and oilseed exports. The stakes are concernedly high, as the economic harm of breaching the dams would ripple throughout the U.S. agricultural value chain by effectively shutting down a critical export corridor for grains and oilseeds. Removal of the LSR locks could bankrupt thousands of producers as they attempt to change their freight distribution network from efficient river barges to far more costly – and environmentally damaging – long-haul truck or rail service. Rep. Newhouse’s bill is needed to prevent the damaging consequences of dam breaching for agriculture in the Pacific Northwest that could ultimately impact global food security," said the National Grain and Feed Association.

"The Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) applauds the introduction of the Defending Against Manipulative Negotiators Act by Rep. Dan Newhouse. The Lower Snake River Dams are vital to the livelihood of Washington’s wheat farmers. Any alteration or breaching of these dams would negatively impact our ability to transport wheat, thus causing adverse impacts to local businesses, including family-owned farms, and the broader regional economy."

"With potential operational changes in the Columbia River beginning in September with reduced electrical power production, uncertain navigation, irrigation and salmon recovery capacity the region needs to stabilize the conversation around dam removal on the Snake River. This bill is a critical step forward looking at the needs of region," said the Washington State Potato Commission. 

"Breaching the Lower Snake River Dams will put tens of thousands of trucks on the highways and also crowd railway traffic. This will negatively impact feed and product transportation and dramatically reverse progress in reducing the carbon footprint of our state and nation," said Dan Wood, Executive Director, Washington State Dairy Federation.

Background: 

The Biden Administration announced a 10-year stay in the Columbia River System Operations (CRSO) mediation, alongside over $1 billion in funding for wild fish restoration in the Columbia River Basin.

Throughout the mediation process, key stakeholders and community members directly impacted by the litigation have been left in the dark as negotiations take place behind closed doors.

The Biden Administration and dam-breaching advocates are intent on achieving a “de facto” breach of the Four Lower Snake River Dams, by opening the gates to reduce the water below the minimum operating levels for hydroelectric generation.

Given that “breaching the dams” is mentioned 68 times total in the package, it is abundantly clear what the goal of this administration is.

This administration should not be making agreements which circumvent congressional authority to breach the dams by operationally breaching them with the agreement.

The full bill text can be found here.