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Tell the Washington Legislature to protect Snake River salmon

Delivery to Senators Liias and Rolfes and Representatives Ormsby and Doglio

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What’s At Stake

We have more momentum than ever before to make important investments that put us on the path to restore the lower Snake River, breach four outdated dams, and restore salmon habitat across the Northwest. Tell the Transportation, Ways and Means, and Appropriations committees to fund a plan for meeting all of the region's needs in a post-dam reality.

And right now, we have a new and important opportunity to gain even more momentum: the Washington State Legislature just started its 2023 legislative session and will consider two significant budget requests from Governor Inslee to advance planning for lower Snake River dam removal. The two requests would fund planning to assess how the energy and transportation benefits of the lower Snake River dams can be replaced so they can be breached. These analyses are of critical importance because they will form key pieces of a blueprint for the investments that will ensure Snake River communities benefit from dam breaching as well as Snake River salmon will.

Snake River salmon populations, and the highly endangered orcas that rely on them, are headed towards extinction, but we can restore thriving salmon runs and literally pump life into Northwest ecosystems if we breach four dams on the lower Snake River. The dams stop salmon from accessing millions of acres of prime spawning habitat and make the lower Snake River a lethally hot gauntlet for these fish.

We don’t have any more time to waste. The dams are a physical manifestation of the harmful, colonialist mindset that is driving the biodiversity crisis we face today. They are pushing what was once one of the most prolific salmon runs in the world towards extinction and continue to violate the treaty rights of the Nez Perce and other tribes — and there’s no amount of money the government can spend to adequately mitigate for these losses while the dams remain in place.

A future without the dams is a brighter one, and the legislature must move us towards that future by funding Governor Inslee’s Snake River planning requests. Call on it to act today.

East fork of the Salmon River
Neil Ever Osborne / Save Our Wild Salmon / ILCP

East fork of the Salmon River, one of the major tributaries of the Snake River. The four dams impede the migration of adult salmon trying to return to spawn in the clean, cold waters of high elevation tributaries.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.