SALEM, Oregon — The governor of Oregon has come out in favor of removing four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in Washington state, saying that is the best way to increase endangered salmon runs.
Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, sent a letter to Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee this week, offering her support for removing the dams. Washington, under an initiative spearheaded by Inslee, has been gathering information on what Northwest residents think about breaching the four dams. That report is expected in early March.
The letter outraged Washington state’s three Republican U.S. House members, who want to keep the dams, the Tri-City Herald reported.
“Gov. Brown’s position is not only misguided, it is shocking and extreme,” said Reps. Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler, in a joint statement Friday afternoon.
The three said it is best to wait for the release of a federal environmental study of the Columbia and Snake river hydrosystems that was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon of Portland.
The four dams are located along the Snake River from Pasco to near Pomeroy.
Brown said it is clear the “most certain and robust solution to Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery” is removing the dams.
“No other action has the potential to improve overall survival two-to-three fold,” she said.
The dams generate electricity, provide some irrigation and flood control and allow barges to operate all the way to Lewiston, Idaho. But they are also blamed for killing salmon and steelhead that are migrating to the ocean or back to their spawning grounds.