In late February Governor Brown’s office helped announce The Columbia Basin Collaborative (CBC). The CBC was developed by the governors of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. It strives to put an end to litigation, bringing the region’s sovereign tribes, states, and stakeholder groups together to promote a collaborative effort in recovery of Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead.
Ironically, less than a week later Governor Brown directed the state to file a lawsuit in federal court over the federal government’s latest plan for hydropower operations in the Columbia River Basin and the Biological Opinion in support of the plan under the Endangered Species Act.
This litigation directly conflicts with the Governor’s commitment to first collaborate to develop a solution. The fact that this litigation has been in the courts for over 20 years is testament that legal action is not a solution. And it is definitely a far cry from Governor Brown’s stated commitment to a collaborative approach. We maintain that while the collaborative effort requires tenacious work by all stakeholders to discover rational solutions to many difficult problems, it is certainly an option preferred over more prolonged court battles.
As Ted Case, executive director for the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, recently put it, “Governor Kate Brown’s decision to litigate on the federal hydropower system one week after the start of a historic four-state collaborative process is truly confounding. With this action, Governor Brown is choosing to make our electric grid less reliable, dramatically increase Oregon’s carbon emissions and harm rural communities that depend on affordable electricity from our federal dams.”
Recent blackouts in California and Texas have hopefully instilled in our leaders the importance of making sound, educated decisions. Douglas Electric fully supports a sustainable future for the salmon and steelhead we in the Pacific Northwest so enjoy, but we need to simultaneously maintain the tremendous economic benefits and affordable energy with zero-carbon emissions derived in the region from the operation of the dams.
We call on Governor Brown to end Oregon’s litigation battles and make the collaborative process of the CBC, to which she originally committed, a top priority.
James K. Brooks
Douglas Electric Cooperative