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 January 30, 2024

GOP working to block Biden administration's push to remove hydroelectric dams

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is gearing up to interrogate five top federal officials, delving into the Biden administration's clandestine deal with environmental groups advocating for the removal or destruction of hydroelectric dams in Washington.

The hearing, officially titled "Exposing President Biden’s Plan to Dismantle the Snake River Dams and the Negative Impacts to the United States," will feature testimonies from key figures, including White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and officials from the Department of Energy, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Bonneville Power Administration.

The issue

Republicans are spearheading this hearing to scrutinize the Biden administration's actions with regard to four federally operated dams situated along Washington's Snake River.

These dams traverse Idaho and Washington, eventually flowing into the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.

The hearing follows the recent legal settlement orchestrated by the White House, entering into an agreement with environmental groups and tribes to conduct a study on dam breaching, potentially paving the way for future dam removal.

GOP concerns

Expressing concerns about transparency, Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) alleges that voices dependent on the river system were deliberately excluded from the decision-making process.

She criticizes the administration for what she deems a reckless pursuit of an activist agenda, characterizing it as a misguided mission to remove dams without adequate scientific data.

The recent agreement, reached last month, involves a stay on litigation through 2028 by tribes and environmental groups who had filed lawsuits advocating for dam breaches.

The agreement also includes a $1 billion allocation for wild fish restoration and a plan for new clean energy projects operated by tribes.

The White House's response

The White House underscores the continued reliability of energy and services, even in the event of dam breaches. However, officials stopped short of committing to a breach plan, emphasizing that such a decision would require congressional approval.

Environmentalists argue that the dams have negatively impacted salmon and steelhead populations by disrupting migratory patterns. Local stakeholders emphasize the dams' vital contribution to energy production, supporting agriculture transportation, and facilitating barge transportation along the Columbia River system.

Republicans and industry groups have vehemently criticized the administration for engaging in secretive negotiations and have voiced concerns that the agreement could ultimately lead to the removal of these critical dams.

The impending congressional hearing aims to shed light on the Biden administration's decisions and bring transparency to a matter that directly impacts the energy landscape and regional ecosystems.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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