Press Statement

July 13, 2021 Vancouver, WA

Northwest RiverPartners Urges Columbia Basin Collaborative to Reevaluate Current Framework; Establish More Equitable, Holistic Approach

Advocacy Group Urges Sincere Collaboration by Requiring Participants to Suspend Litigation Activities

The Columbia Basin Collaborative was introduced last year by the governors of
the four Northwest states to help move the region past unending litigation and
toward the recovery of threatened and endangered salmon species.

Unfortunately, the Collaborative has failed to live up to its name. Alarmingly, 19
of the 22 seats not set aside for federal or state agencies are earmarked for
organizations that have passed resolutions in favor of breaching the four Lower
Snake River dams.

Our members embrace the critical importance of healthy salmon populations for
the region’s people, most especially recognizing the sacred place of salmon for
the Northwest’s Tribal Nations. However, the Collaborative’s proposed structure
does not offer the opportunity for an equitable balance of voices to engage in
what should be an intellectually honest discussion about the many factors that
influence salmon survival.

Importantly, the Collaborative must start with a baseline that recognizes the
threat of climate change to salmon populations, particularly in the ocean
environment. A 2021 NOAA Fisheries study indicates that Chinook salmon may
go extinct in less than 60 years if the Pacific Ocean continues to warm at its
current rate.

This finding, combined with 2020 research on the coastwide decline in salmon
survival rates make it clear we have a shared responsibility to take a more
holistic approach to salmon recovery. In this vein, we believe the Collaborative
has an opportunity to reset, and we urge the effort to do so by adopting the
following guiding principles:

  • Develop working groups that are balanced and representative of the
    totality of the region’s voices.
  • Prioritize holistic solutions that can benefit coastwide salmon populations.
  • Require participants, including the State of Oregon as Co-Chair, to drop
    legal suits as a precondition for being part of this collaborative process.
  • Evaluate solutions based on the social cost of carbon and prioritize
    socioeconomic and health impacts for under-represented and vulnerable
  • Recognize the multi-purpose functionality of the hydropower system.

Northwest RiverPartners has consistently demonstrated its intention to follow a
collaborative path regarding the future of salmon and dams in the
Northwest. Therefore, we urge the Collaborative to commit to finding a more
equitable and holistic approach in this critical process. It’s time for the states to
decide how much they believe in a truly collaborative process.


About Northwest RiverPartners

Northwest RiverPartners (NWRP) is a not-for-profit, member-driven organization.
We represent not-for-profit, community-owned utilities across Washington,
Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada. We also proudly represent
farmers, ports, and businesses across the region that support clean energy and
low-carbon transportation.

NWRP is focused on raising awareness about how the Northwest’s hydropower
system betters communities and the natural environment, and we encourage
science-based solutions that help hydropower and salmon coexist and