March 10, 2021
To: Hon. Derek Kilmer
Re: Rep. Simpson’s “Columbia Basin Fund” Plan
Dear Rep. Kilmer:
Olympic Climate Action is a grassroots organization based on the Olympic Peninsula with more than 1000 followers dedicated to research, education, and action on climate. We engage in consensus decision-making and only take positions with supermajority support. This letter was approved at our meeting on March 7, 2021.
In 2018, OCA took a position in support of the immediate removal of the four lower Snake River Dams via Executive Branch action to place them in a non-operational status. These dams do not represent truly clean energy, and removing them will benefit the region in several ways:
- Freeing the Snake River ensures restoration of fish populations and marine ecosystems. Lack of chinook salmon from the Columbia River system is a principal reason for the decline of the Southern Resident Orcas, and collapse of Snake Runs have cost hundreds of coastal fishing jobs on the Olympic Peninsula.
- A flowing river will invite and enhance the local community and tourist recreation.
- Land reclamation provides ground for enhanced carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, recreation, and reclaimed agricultural development, with accompanying jobs.
- Tax and ratepayers will no longer pay for unnecessary, underperforming dams and the future burden of maintenance costs. These dams have outlived their initial intended purpose and are a cost-prohibitive maintenance issue.
- Energy output from these dams is not required to support the grid, and subsidies to this inefficient technology suppress over 3,000 MWs of renewable energy capacity awaiting transmission interconnection to the BPA grid, thus preventing clean energy development.
Rep. Simpson’s bold and comprehensive “Columbia Basin Fund” plan released on February 7, 2021 [link at The Northwest in Transition | U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson – 2nd District of Idaho (house.gov)] addresses these areas. OCA thanks Rep. Simpson for his bipartisan leadership and willingness to act for the public good of the Pacific Northwest.
While OCA agrees with Rep. Simpson’s position that the four lower Snake River Dams must be breached to save Snake River salmon, the weight of scientific evidence is that breaching must begin immediately. OCA supports utilization of existing federal policies to achieve breaching, and to provide fair mitigation for affected interests. Rep. Simpson’s proposal provides a good framework for longer-term investments in transportation, renewable energy, additional job creation and other regional benefits.
Therefore, we call upon our federal, state and local officials to (1) support Executive Branch direction for breaching of the four lower Snake River Dams, to begin this year, with appropriate mitigation for affected interests, and (2) work with Rep. Simpson on his comprehensive Columbia Basin Fund plan to bring its regionally beneficial provisions into legislation.
Sincerely, Ed Chadd, Chair, on behalf of Olympic Climate Action