Grijalva Highlights Republican Bill to Allow Sea Lion Slaughter, Ignore Deadbeat Dams Ahead of This Morning’s 21-Bill Markup

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today highlighted H.R. 2083, a featured part of this morning’s 21-bill markup, as a clear example of the intellectual bankruptcy of Republican environmental policies in the modern era. Rather than addressing the undisputed central role outdated and obsolete dams play in the ongoing drop of the Columbia River salmon population, the bill increases the number of public permits to kill sea lions along the river in hopes that this will somehow restore salmon populations despite the dams’ continued presence.

As with most Republican environmental positions – from persistent climate denial to an oil-first energy agenda to constant attacks on the Endangered Species Act – H.R. 2083 fails to confront the impact of human actions on environmental quality. Instead, it presents the survival of the Columbia River salmon population as a simple question of eliminating enough sea lions, even though the two have coexisted in the area for millennia.

“It’s sadly typical that nothing about this bill reflects the history of humans impacting the Columbia River,” Grijalva said. “I’d say we’re blaming sea lions for building too many dams, but my Republican colleagues won’t even acknowledge the dams are an issue. Conducting some farcical sea lion hunt while the salmon try to jump a hundred-foot-tall concrete barrier to reach their natural habitat is not my idea of sound environmental policy. Removing deadbeat dams like the four on the lower Snake River is the only real way to restore salmon and steelhead runs, and killing sea lions is not going to get the job done.”

The Columbia River is one of the most heavily dammed in the country. The Snake River is the main tributary to the Columbia and was historically home to massive spawning populations of salmon and steelhead – populations that fell 90 percent after four dams (known as Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite) were built in the 1970s. A federal judge recently ruled that a new review of the Columbia River hydropower system’s impacts on salmon must include consideration of removing these dams.

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