In April, a Snohomish County PUD staffer testified to the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee. She asked lawmakers to “streamline and improve” the licensing process for hydropower projects. Specifically, she supported a bill (HR 8) that would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the ability to largely ignore states, tribes and natural resource agencies in licensing decisions. Utility companies could avoid complying with, and ignore, the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act, as well as state laws that protect fish, wildlife, water quality, recreation, and public lands and resources. Remember the recent news about lead in the water? Want that to happen here? The PUD claims to be environmentally responsible, but then sends someone to D.C. to try and roll back most of the environmental protections that have been enacted in the past 50 years.
The PUD is pursuing licensure for a project on the free-flowing Skykomish River, Washington’s first State Scenic River. It is protected by the federal Northwest Power and Conservation Council and by Washington’s Instream Resources Protection Program and the Shoreline Management Act. The Tulalip Tribes and the Snoqualmie Tribe recently requested that the license be denied.
What is the PUD doing? Is the utility focused on a short term advantage for itself, even if it means a long-term disaster for the environment and for all of us? HR 8 would roll back environmental protections for energy projects everywhere, possibly including pipelines, coal trains, fracking, etc. We expect environmental stewardship from our utility, not hypocrisy.