H. R. 3144, To provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System.

Full title: To provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System pursuant to a certain operation plan for a specified period of time, and for other purposes.

This bill requires the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to operate the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) in a manner consistent with the document titled “Endangered Species Act Section 7(a)(2) Supplemental Biological Opinion,” dated January 17, 2014, until the later of September 30, 2022, or the date upon which a subsequent final biological opinion for FCRPS operations is in effect with no pending further judicial review. Such entities may amend the supplemental opinion and operate the FCRPS accordingly before such date if the entities agree that: (1) the amendments are necessary for public safety or transmission and grid reliability; or (2) the actions, operations, or other requirements that the amendments remove are no longer warranted. No structural modification, action, study, or engineering plan may restrict electrical generation at any FCRPS hydroelectric dam or limit navigation on the Snake River in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho unless authorized by Congress.

Why This Bill Is Against Our Values:

H.R. 3144 fundamentally violates our nation’s bedrock environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act. Federal agencies and courts have concluded that the Federal Columbia River Power System causes significant harm to the Columbia River’s native fisheries. The National Marine Fisheries Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce has found that the estimated “current annual salmon and steelhead production in the Columbia River Basin is more than 10 million fish below historical levels, with 8 million of this annual loss attributable to hydropower development and operation.”\1\ As a result, there are thirteen species or populations of Columbia or Snake River salmon and steelhead that are listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Instead of allowing responsive, science-based fisheries management that will recover these listed species, H.R. 3144 locks in a failing status quo operation plan that unquestionably harms some of our nation’s most iconic fisheries.” (Source: Minority Views, Committee on Natural Resources, Report 115-643)

“LCV (League of Conservation Voters) urges you to vote NO on H.R. 3144, a bill to deal with the Federal Columbia River Power System, also known as the “Salmon Extinction Act,” which would undermine the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by mandating dam operations harmful to endangered salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest. H.R. 3144 would overturn two U.S. District Court decisions in 2016 and 2017 that found that current Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) operations illegally endanger the Pacific Northwest’s salmon runs. The court found that the most recent plan for managing the FCRPS dams violated the ESA and NEPA, would not protect wild salmon from extinction, and would cause irreparable harm to salmon already facing extinction.” (Source: Letter from the League of Conservation Voters)

“As Governor of the State of Washington, I write to express my deep concerns with HR 3144, legislation which would freeze in place a 2014 biological opinion (BiOp), or salmon management plan, for the dams composing the Federal Columbia River Power System. While the State of Washington believes the 2014 BiOp represented a step forward for efforts to protect and recover 13 stocks of threatened or endangered Columbia and Snake river salmon and steelhead, HR 3144 would thwart constructive ongoing efforts to improve future salmon and dam management. This would not only hurt salmon but also the recreational and commercial fisheries, tribes, and other species (such as Puget Sound’s southern resident killer whales) that benefit from healthy salmon runs.” (Source: Letter from the Office of Governor, State of Washington)

“As Governor of the State of Oregon, I write expressing deep concerns with HR 3144. I am concerned this legislation would thwart fewer court direction to provide additional spill at dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers and the collaborative state, tribal and federal process that has worked effectively to develop spill provisions for 2018. These court-ordered collaborative efforts resulted in consensus recommendations from all sovereigns, representing a positive, and unprecedented, step forward in building stronger consensus from recovery actions. HR 3144 would negate this progress and our ability to implement and learn from these consensus recommendations.” (Source: Letter from Governor, State of Oregon)

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