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NW Fishletter #390, February 4, 2019

[8] Action Agencies Expedite Release Of Columbia Basin Federal Dam EIS To 2020

An environmental impact statement assessing the impacts of 14 federal dams in the Columbia Basin will be completed a year early, in 2020, the action agencies said in a Jan. 9 news release.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration released a new timeline that includes issuing a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in June 2020 instead of March 2021, and a record of decision on Sept. 30, 2020, instead of Sept. 24, 2021.

The change is the result of President Donald Trump's Oct. 19 Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West, which also speeds up water projects for irrigators in the Klamath Basin and California's Central Valley.

According to the news release, the agencies submitted a new schedule to the Council on Environmental Quality for consideration in December, and the CEQ recently confirmed that the schedule allows the agencies to produce an EIS that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act and the president's memorandum.

Under a federal court order to develop a new EIS for the Federal Columbia River Power System operations, the action agencies have been working since September 2016 on the document, which will include an examination of removing four lower Snake River dams.

The expedited schedule now completes a draft EIS in February 2020 instead of late March 2020, leaving four months to receive and review public comments before preparing a final EIS which identifies a preferred alternative.

"The co-lead agencies remain committed to developing and evaluating alternatives that best balance the multiple purposes of these 14 projects," the news release stated. -K.C. Mehaffey

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Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: K.C. Mehaffey
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