Dan Newhouse

Congressman Dan Newhouse

Hydropower and hydroelectric dams have truly transformed our region into what it is today. Central Washington and much of the Pacific Northwest is naturally arid, but with the construction of federal water infrastructure, it has transformed into a productive agricultural region with a growing population and an increasingly successful, diverse business community.

Here in Central Washington, we understand that the benefits of the dams stretch far beyond clean energy generation and affordable power. From irrigation for our region’s farmers to transportations of goods and flood control, the benefits are countless.

It is safe to say that without our hydroelectric dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, life as we know it in our region would cease to exist. Despite this reality, anti-dam advocates, through years of litigation and misguided efforts, have attempted to breach or remove them. To that, I respond as I have in the past: as long as I am in Congress, nobody is tearing down our dams.

I recently joined my Pacific Northwest colleagues in introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives in support of hydropower as an essential, clean, and renewable energy resource. The resolution expresses that it is the sense of Congress that we should continue to support new and existing hydropower projects as part of an all-of-the-above energy approach for the United States.

Central Washington is a prime example of all-of-the-above energy. In fact, much of the research and innovation happening right here is leading the way for the rest of the country, and even the world. Not only are the scientists and researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory working to advance grid storage capabilities to ensure we can harness the power of renewable energy resources, but they are also utilizing the Lower Snake River Dams to improve energy efficiency and – importantly – fish passage rates for future and existing dam infrastructure.

I have and will continue to strongly support these efforts through my position on House Appropriations Energy & Water Subcommittee, as I believe these advancements will enhance our ability to generate clean, renewable energy for generations to come while achieving our shared goal of protecting our environment and benefiting local ecosystems.

The dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers produce enough electricity to power a city the size of Seattle. This is reliable, baseload energy – meaning that it doesn’t depend on the sun shining or the wind blowing in order to generate power. The availability of this energy provides for low power costs for families and businesses in our region, and it strengthens the electrical grid for the entire West Coast.

As we witnessed this past summer, when energy needs rise in states like California – where they have come to rely too heavily on solar and wind energy resources instead of an all-of-the-above approach – the Pacific Northwest is able to provide excess power. This is only made possible by our diversified energy portfolio and, of course, our dams.

As the United States explores how to promote and expand clean and renewable energy, hydropower cannot and should not be left out of the equation. I remain steadfast in my commitment to support our dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers and to strengthen hydropower infrastructure across the United States.

Congressman Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside serves the 4th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

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