In February, Congressman Mike Simpson unveiled his “Northwest in Transition” framework to save Idaho’s salmon and steelhead, and prepare the Northwest’s energy, transportation, agriculture, and recreation sectors for a prosperous and certain future for all.
Much attention has been placed on breaching the four lower Snake River dams in Washington State. To put things in perspective, $1.4 billion of the $33.5 billion in investments that Simpson outlined would go directly toward removing sediment and the earthen berms next to the four dams.
The overwhelming majority of Simpson’s plan would go toward improving water quality, replacing the energy services the dams provide, and investing in agriculture, transportation, and local communities. Below are some details:
Clean Energy: $16 billion would be used to construct new carbon-free electric sources and to improve the Northwest’s electrical grid.
Agriculture, Irrigation, and Transportation: More than $5 billion would be used to improve, reconfigure, or develop new irrigation and transportation infrastructure that ensures agricultural growers continue growing and moving their crops.
Water Quality: $4.6 billion would be used for water quality improvements throughout the Northwest. More than $1 billion of this amount would be used for projects and related research in Idaho. Watershed partnerships in Idaho’s Snake River Basin would work to address agricultural runoff, restore river habitat, and improve surface and groundwater quality in southern Idaho.
Tribal Commitments: The proposal aims to restore salmon and steelhead in the region to honor the commitments the U.S. made to Tribes. The proposal would create a Northwest State and Tribal Fish and Wildlife Council composed of state and Tribal representatives, funded with more than $2.2 billion and the authority to implement programs and projects that advance fish recovery.
Local Communities: Nearly $2.25 billion would be used to restore the Lewiston-Clarkston Waterfront and invest in local economic development, including, recreation, tourism, and commercial industries. $1.25 billion of this amount would be invested in research on batteries and energy storage technology in the Lewiston area.
Simpson’s proposal invests in a certain future for all communities in the Northwest and restores Idaho’s salmon and steelhead. It’s about much more than taking out four dams on the lower Snake River.