• Updated

In a unanimous vote on Jan. 23, seven members of the Orcas Power & Light Co-op board rescinded a resolution the board adopted in September opposing removal of the four lower Snake River dams while supporting "effective" actions to restore salmon runs and save endangered southern resident orcas.

After 18 months of accepting recommendations, drafting new language, and receiving and reviewing public comments, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council adopted Part II of its 2020 Fish and Wildlife Program Addendum on Jan. 14.

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Dismantling or breaching the four lower Snake River dams would add 1.2 million tons of CO2 and other harmful emissions annually to the atmosphere, and cost more than $2.3 billion over the next 30 years, according to a study commissioned by the Pacific Northwest Waterway Association (PNWA).

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Despite miserly precipitation in many parts of the Columbia Basin so far this water year, hydrologists now predict the water supply at The Dalles Dam from April through September will be close to normal, if forecasts for significant winter storms through Jan. 19 are accurate.

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After years of delay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has 30 days to develop and issue technical documents outlining the causes of high water temperatures in the lower Snake and Columbia rivers, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

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Independent consultants hired by the State of Washington to look at the impacts of breaching four lower Snake River dams discovered both hope and despair over the potential to resolve the longstanding issue, they said in their draft report released by Gov. Jay Inslee's office Dec. 20.

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For the first time anywhere, biologists hope to track juvenile salmon and steelhead as they migrate downstream over a high-velocity spillway at the Snake River's Lower Granite Dam next spring, officials say.

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A Washington State University professor who was among the first to sound an alarm about methane emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs says, in his opinion, "the jury is still out on the extent to which Columbia River reservoirs are significant greenhouse gas sources."

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The debate over lower Snake River dam removal is often framed as a tug-of-war between the perceived environmental benefits to salmon, steelhead and other aquatic life and the economic detriments to farmers, hydroelectric generation, a barging industry and the communities they support.

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Just before retiring in November, Debbie Bone-Harris, senior public affairs manager for Franklin County PUD, told Clearing Up about a growing concern by public-power utilities across Washington over the prospect of removing four lower Snake River dams. She provided resolutions adopted by boa…

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to apply for a pollution discharge permit for Chief Joseph Dam, track the amount of lubricants it uses there, and study and use environmentally friendlier lubricants at the dam when feasible.

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Scientists who study avian predation in the Columbia Basin have long known that birds can be a significant cause of death for young salmonids—especially upper Columbia River steelhead. But even Allen Evans and Dan Roby were surprised by the numbers after tallying cumulative impacts of 14 bir…

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The jury is still out on whether the Northwest is ready to come together to try to solve issues surrounding poor returns of salmon and steelhead to the Snake River, according to a white paper following up on a Boise State University conference in April.

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A team of independent scientists offered a positive review of a tribal organization's analysis for reintroducing salmon and steelhead above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams, but recommended that tribes and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council proceed with caution due to continuing …

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There are enough pockets of cold water on the Columbia River to provide migrating adult salmon and steelhead a temporary reprieve when the lower Columbia River gets uncomfortably warm, an Environmental Protection Agency study found. But these areas of cooler water likely will not be enough t…

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Concerned parties have weighed in on a request by two environmental groups for the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision that struck down the routine practice of withdrawing and resubmitting state water quality certifications for projects seeking a federal license.

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Two Pacific Northwest tribes on Oct. 14 called for removal of three hydroelectric dams on the lower Columbia River to boost salmon populations and help feed struggling orcas.

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Federal funds apportioned since 2015 to the four Northwest states to help keep quagga and zebra mussels out of the Columbia Basin are now at risk of being diluted, after Congress added four more basins spanning another 11 states, without increasing the total appropriation.

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After tracking contaminants flowing into the U.S. from coal mining operations in southeast British Columbia for years, the Environmental Protection Agency has released results of its most recent study showing that selenium levels in some mountain whitefish and their eggs are exceeding its re…

Three environmental groups whose lawsuit prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service to reinitiate Endangered Species Act consultations for the Willamette Valley Project are now asking a federal judge to grant their original claims for relief in a summary …

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The Washington State Department of Ecology says it plans to adopt a final rule in December after reviewing comments on its proposal to permanently increase total dissolved gas limits in the Snake and Columbia rivers to 125 percent during spring spill season, from April 3 to June 20. The comm…

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Although NOAA Fisheries’ annual memo on the survival rates of juvenile salmon and steelhead migrating through the Snake and Columbia river dams this year is still preliminary, some members of the Columbia River Technical Management Team want to know whether the data will be used to examine t…

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Climate change, invasive species, the Columbia River Treaty, salmon reintroduction, and how hydropower fits into a clean energy future. These were some of the main topics explored at the International Columbia Basin Transboundary Conference in Kimberley, B.C., Sept. 12-14.

Should citizens in Canada and the U.S. establish an International River Basin Organization and use it to replace or enhance the Columbia River Treaty process? The idea was presented, debated and then discussed in small groups as the last session of Columbia Basin Transboundary Conference in …

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While various attempts to reduce avian predation on young Columbia River salmon and steelhead have been successful, some of the predatory birds have simply moved to new—and potentially more damaging—locations in the estuary, a lead researcher told the Northwest Power and Conservation Council…

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The first complete map of tidal wetlands that once made up vast portions of the Pacific coast’s estuaries shows 85 percent of the areas from California to Washington have been lost to development and farmland, and also confirmed the Columbia River’s tidal wetlands are only a quarter of the s…

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BPA has renegotiated an extension of the Columbia Basin Fish Accords for four years with all its partners except the State of Washington, and has released the proposed agreements with states and tribes for public comment.

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A new marine heat wave that’s nearly as big and as warm as the infamous "Blob" that lingered off the Pacific Coast five years ago formed off the coast of Washington this summer, and it has scientists more than a little concerned.

California Trout and Trout Unlimited are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court ruling which found states waive their authority to issue water quality certifications on federal projects after one year, even if the application is withdrawn and later resubmitted.

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Judges for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had plenty of questions for an Environmental Protection Agency attorney arguing to overturn a lower court decision requiring EPA to make plans for resolving water temperature problems in the lower Snake and Columbia rivers.

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Eighty years after the construction of Grand Coulee Dam blocked migratory fish, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation released 30 adult summer ­Chinook above the largest Columbia River dam.

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On Aug. 26, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments by the U.S. Environmental ­Protection Agency and five conservation groups over who’s responsible for issuing plans to deal with water temperature pollution in the Snake and Columbia rivers, and how soon those plans sh…

To some, a new report by ECONorthwest demonstrates that if a monetary value is given to restoring the environment, the economic benefits of removing the lower Snake River dams would more than exceed the costs.

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After revising cost estimates, beefing up financial assurances, getting extensions from funding sources and changing its timeline, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation is again asking FERC to transfer the license for four lower Klamath River Dams so that the process to remove them can move …

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to partner with states and pay 70 percent of the costs to implement a rapid response plan to eradicate zebra and quagga mussels if the invasive species are found in ­Washington, Oregon, Idaho or Montana.