The Salmon River in Idaho. Photo by: Idaho Fish & Game

The Simpson Plan for the Columbia Basin: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

In February, Representative Simpson (R-ID) released a "concept" for breaching the four lower Snake River dams. We know that removing these dams is necessary to revive abundant, wild fish in the Snake River system. However, a number of elements included in Rep. Simpson's proposed concept would be deeply problematic for wild fish across the Columbia Basin. In addition to breaching the four lower Snake River dams, this plan proposes to:

  • Lock in the status quo for all other dams and hydropower projects in the Columbia Basin for up to 50 years;
  • Waive bedrock federal environmental laws and suspend all ongoing litigation at the more than 80 remaining dams in the basin for 35 years;
  • Waive bedrock federal environmental laws with respect to agriculture and water for 25 years;
  • Turn control over waters, including water quality protection, to state agriculture departments;
  • Fail to address salmon-killing water temperatures in the mainstem Columbia River;
  • Invest in hatcheries; and
  • Spend 34 billion dollars with little or no accountability.

We have more thoroughly articulated our concerns about the Simpson concept in a short informational document prepared with a diversity of conservation partners whose work focuses on the revival of wild fish, the protection of clean water, and the restoration of the region's landscapes.

Our goal isn't to stop dam removal of the four lower Snake River Dams; we will continue to champion this absolutely necessary action.

We and our partners are already engaged in the legislative process to ensure that any legislative action creates a net uplift for native fish, rivers, and communities across the entire Columbia River Basin. The voices of the Pacific Northwest's citizens, communities, Tribal Nations, and indigenous people will be critical in achieving this vision. Your voice will be critical to these efforts. We encourage you to start discussing the concerns outlined in our information document with your communities, and we will connect you with opportunities to engage in advocacy as they arise.

Together, we can build a better future for the fish, rivers, and people of the Pacific Northwest.

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