Tacoma Power has successfully worked with stakeholders on the Skokomish, Nisqually and Cowlitz rivers to balance the needs of its dams with the needs of tribes, salmon and local residents. Our communities and the utility have both celebrated the victories that collaboration has brought, such as the state-of-the-art fish ladder on the North Fork Skokomish River that The News Tribune highlighted in an article last month.
However, Tacoma Power recently signed onto a letter supporting legislation that would reverse the federal court decision (Tacoma v. FERC) that led to the successful restoration on the North Fork Skokomish River, among other successes.
The bill would strip states and tribes of their ability to shape dam operations, shift to taxpayers the costs of water quality and wildlife management improvements and pollution cleanup, and roll back Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act protections that are critical to restoring salmon, orcas and the Puget Sound.
Tacoma Power is wrong to support this “hydro power grab” legislation. As a public utility, Tacoma Power should reflect the values of the community it serves and withdraw its support for this harmful legislation.
(Garrity is American Rivers’ director of Rivers of the Puget Sound and Columbia Basin.)