New electricity project in WA takes a turn on hydropower

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In an Oct. 6 press release from the Yakama Nation, tribal chiefs explained that this area is known to tribal members as “Pushpum,” a sacred site for ceremonies, legends and root gathering. and medicine for many generations, George Selam, said the chairman of the tribal council’s cultural committee in the press release.

“For generations, regional utility infrastructure has been developed in Yakama Nation Treaty territory, blowing up customary fishing grounds, inundating traditional villages and infiltrating (Hanford’s) radioactive pollution into root fields. medicines and subsistence, ”said Jeremy Takala, municipal councilor of the Yakama tribe, in the Liberation.

Tribal Council Vice Chairman Virgil Lewis said he expects the Pacific Northwest to come under pressure from the energy industry over the next decade. to allow further development of infrastructure.

“This new technology must be developed ethically without destroying the cultural resources and gathering sites that are part of the Yakama way of life,” Lewis said.

Columbia Riverkeeper, the Washington chapter of the Sierra Club, American Rivers and the Washington Environmental Council joined the Yakamas in opposing the project. A coalition of 15 environmental groups wrote a letter to elected officials of the state that In Washington and Oregon to oppose the project.

“Greenwashing ends today,” said Simone Anter, staff attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper. “Rye’s proposal would have devastating effects on tribal nations and indigenous peoples. The project also threatens local wildlife such as the bald eagle and the royal eagle. We call on the leaders of the Northwest to honor the treaty rights of tribal nations and oppose this short-sighted enterprise.

Recently, the Yakama Nation has expressed concerns more frequently about renewable energy projects appearing on surrendered lands in Klickitat County, McClure said.

Steimle said Rye Development is keen to work closely with the Yakama Nation and uphold their values. The company and the Yakamas have started discussions on the subject.

Rye Development is the first company to pursue the concept of pumped storage in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the Klickitat County project, Rye Development is developing a similar 400 megawatt pumped storage project at Swan Lake in southern Oregon. This $ 800 million project is expected to go live in 2026.

The Klickitat and Swan Lake projects are Rye Development’s first pump storage ventures. The company has 22 projects east of the Mississippi River that involve converting unpowered dams to hydroelectric dams.

The Klickitat project is halfway through a review of the state’s environmental policy law and is progressing towards a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In June, the Washington Department of Ecology rejected Rye Development’s application for a water quality permit due to insufficient information. But the state allows the company to resubmit the request.

The Klickitat project still faces two environmental obstacles.

One is the old aluminum smelter at the lower reservoir site which various companies operated from 1969 to 2003. Smelter operations contaminated the site’s soil and groundwater with fluoride, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. , cyanide and polychlorinated biphenyls. Rye’s development plans would deal with this pollution, which Steimle says will cost around $ 10 million.

The second hurdle is noted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in its comments on Rye Development’s state permit application. Bald and royal eagles fly in Klickitat County. Written comments from the Department of Wildlife indicated that the upper reservoir would attract thirsty eagles to an area filled with wind turbines with rotating blades that could prove fatal to some birds.


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