Washington Republican sets high bar for dam removal

By Jennifer Yachnin | 05/06/2024 06:31 AM EDT

Rep. Dan Newhouse filed several bills that would prevent the breaching of four dams targeted by Native Americans and environmentalists.

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.).

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) in February. He is backing legislation that would protect dams in his home state from being breached. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Four dams on the Lower Snake River could remain intact for the foreseeable future if Washington Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse succeeds with new legislation aimed at deterring efforts to breach the structures.

Newhouse last week introduced a package of bills that would restrict the Army Corps of Engineers’ ability to breach the four structures — the Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams — whose removal is seen by states, tribal nations and environmentalists as key to restoring the Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead populations.

Although only Congress itself has the authority to order the removal of those dams, Newhouse and other lawmakers have raised concerns that the Biden administration is nonetheless pursuing that goal.


“I have consistently reminded the Biden Administration that the authority over the Lower Snake River Dams remains in the hands of Congress,” Newhouse said in a statement to E&E News. “This package is a staunch reinforcement of that fact and a testament to our commitment to protect these critical pieces of infrastructure.”