January 24, 2019
By Elaine Williams
Port of Lewiston commissioners voted to send letter to Washington governor opposing his budget proposal for study.
The possibility of breaching the four lower Snake River dams has prompted Port of Lewiston commissioners to weigh in on the budget process in neighboring Washington.
The commissioners voted Wednesday to send a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee opposing a $750,000 proposal in his budget. The money would pay to study the repercussions of removing the dams and figure out how much it would cost to mitigate the impact.
“(The letter is) the right thing to do,” Commissioner Mary Hasenoehrl said. “I’m not sure how much influence it will have. It points out the importance of Idaho in this whole discussion.”
Port of Clarkston commissioners already signed the letter. Port of Whitman County commissioners are expected to follow today and have it delivered to Olympia on Monday.
While port commissioners support efforts to save salmon and orca whales, they believe that Inslee’s study is “redundant and duplicative,” according to the letter.
The Columbia River Systems Operations environmental impact statement is being conducted by multiple federal agencies, with the cooperation of all Northwest states and tribes.
Among other things, the statement will evaluate the dams and assess their economic impact. It also will give stakeholders multiple chances to provide comments.
“Given the limited size and scope of such (a state) effort as compared the (federal) process, it is sound to question whether the
recommendations generated by such a study would result in meaningful help for the orcas,” according to the letter. “The (ports) think this study would not be the best use of limited taxpayer resources.”
Staff at Inslee’s office didn’t respond Wednesday to a request for comment.