Ahead of Wednesday House Vote, Grijalva Warns Against Salmon Destruction Bill – “Against the Wishes of Those it Would Hurt Most”

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of today’s House vote on H.R. 3144, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ bill to legalize the ongoing destruction of salmon populations throughout the Pacific Northwest, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) warned Republicans against voting for a locally unpopular and economically destructive bill.

The bill forcibly mandates an inadequate salmon recovery plan for the Pacific Northwest that federal courts have already ruled illegal. Today’s bill overturns these court rulings and locks in a plan that will doom the region’s salmon to extinction and cause severe economic harm.

The region’s salmon runs sustain tens of thousands of family-wage jobs and contribute billions of dollars to the Pacific economy. The commercial and recreational fishing industry, guiding and outdoor retail businesses, and local food industries would be greatly harmed if H.R. 3144 becomes law.

“This is the furthest thing from a left-right issue,” Grijalva said. “This bill ignores multiple court orders, has no future whatsoever in the Senate and represents a complete waste of Congress’ power to do meaningful work. Voting for this bill means voting against local business that oppose it, voting against the future of our nation’s salmon – our second most popular seafood product – and voting against the express wishes of the people it would hurt the most. If Republicans think that sounds like a good use of their time, let them have at it.”

The bill is deeply unpopular across the Pacific Northwest. No fewer than 140 local businesses and business associations sent an open letter to Congress on April 20 opposing the bill, noting the long-lasting damage it would do to the regional economy:

Columbia Basin salmon are critical to the health of the coastal and inland economies and communities of the Pacific Northwest – including California and Alaska. Our businesses are committed to participating in processes that affect salmon and eager to work with Northwest sovereigns and stakeholders to craft lawful, science-based salmon strategies that meet the needs of imperiled salmon populations and the communities of our great region.

Those concerns are shared by Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Adam Smith and Pramila Jayapal, all Democrats of Washington, who wrote a letter to House and Senate leaders on Feb. 20 urging opposition to the bill. That letter noted in part:

The Columbia and Snake River system is essential to the Pacific Northwest’s culture, environment, and economy. Therefore, we have made clear to [federal agencies] our expectation that the federal government conducts an open and transparent process on the [environmental impact statement] and [biological opinion on salmon impacts]. Unfortunately, H.R. 3144 would prevent this by circumventing the judicial branch and ignoring bedrock environmental laws.

The economic damage would not be confined to commercial fishing operations. Chinook salmon populations are vital for the recovery of the southern-resident killer whale, which faces extinction without sufficient food sources. Killer whales are key to coastal tourism.

Press Contact

Media Contacts: Adam Sarvana (Grijalva)

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