On Friday, President Trump ordered the government to speed up environmental reviews and streamline regulations that he says are hindering work on major water projects in the west. Trump signed a memorandum aimed at removing what he called additional burdens when it comes to reviewing the Snake and Columbia river dams, along with California’s Central Valley Project, the California State Water Project, and the Klamath Irrigation Project in southern Oregon.
Trump established a 2020 deadline to finish an environmental review underway in the Columbia River Basin. In 2016, a federal judge in Portland overturned a 2014 management plan for the dams, finding it didn’t do enough to salmon runs. He ordered a new management plan, one that could include removing the four lower Snake River dams. This presidential memorandum moves the completion of the new management plan up a year, ensuring the plan is completed during the Trump administration.
Friday’s announcement was applauded by both Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse who have said the dams are vital for eastern Washington Ag and much more.
“I’ve led on legislation to protect the Columbia and Snake River System and encourage widespread collaboration in our region,” said McMorris Rodgers. “Dams and fish coexist, and after more than two decades in the courtroom, we should let scientists, not judges, manage our river systems and get to work to further improve fish recovery efforts. Today, I’m encouraged by President Trump’s action, which also meets those goals.”
“While the Senate fails to act on our House-passed legislation to restore the collaborative framework that operates the Columbia and Snake River Power System, I am grateful to President Trump for speeding up this ongoing process,” said Newhouse. “Moving up the deadline for the EIS is a procedural win that will give more certainty to the communities whose livelihoods depend on effective operations of our dams.”
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