Broad Coalition of Environmental Nonprofits Urge Elected Officials to Oppose the Goldendale Pumped Storage Development - Waterkeeper

Broad Coalition of Environmental Nonprofits Urge Elected Officials to Oppose the Goldendale Pumped Storage Development

By: Waterkeeper Alliance

The Columbia River between Oregon and Washington State near Lyle, WA. By Dominic Gentilcore PhD/Shutterstock.

A coalition of fifteen environmental organizations called on Washington and Oregon elected officials to oppose the Goldendale Energy Storage Hydroelectric Project, proposed by Rye Development and National Grid (Rye). The development, proposed along the Columbia River in Klickitat County, Washington, would be the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. The environmental organizations cited the Yakama Nation’s opposition to the controversial project as a leading reason for elected officials to oppose more energy development along the Columbia. The project would obliterate irreplaceable tribal cultural resources, including archeological, ceremonial, burial, petroglyph, monumental and ancestral use sites.  

“This is another energy project that will impact Treaty Resources and it is time to stop having our people and tribal resources bear the cost of these types of energy development projects,” stated Philip Rigdon, Superintendent for the Yakama Nation Dept. of Natural Resources.  

“The greenwashing ends today,” stated Simone Anter, staff attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper. “Rye’s proposal would have devastating impacts on Tribal Nations and Indigenous people. The project also threatens local wildlife like bald and golden eagles. We are calling on Northwest leadership to honor Tribal Nations’ treaty rights and oppose this short-sighted venture.”  

The letter, Columbia Riverkeeper, Washington and Oregon Chapters of the Sierra Club, Friends of the White Salmon, Audubon Society of Portland, Washington and Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Food and Water Watch, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Friends of the Toppenish Creek, Northwest Environmental Advocates, Rogue Climate, 350PDX, and Waterkeeper Alliance urges elected officials to honor Tribal Nation treaty rights and protect fish and wildlife threatened by the massive energy development.  

“We stand in solidarity with Tribal Nations that oppose Rye’s destructive proposal. The development poses unacceptable threats to cultural sites, water quality, fish and wildlife,” stated Margie Van Cleve, conservation chair for the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club.  

Rye proposes an off-stream, pumped-storage complex with an upper and lower reservoir, an underground water conveyance tunnel, underground powerhouse, 115 and 500 kilovolt transmission lines, a substation/switchyard, and other facilities. The project is expected to require 9,000 acre-feet of Columbia River water for the initial fill and an additional 390 acre-feet per year to offset evaporative losses. In November 2020, Rye announced the project’s sale to Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, who would then take ownership of the project if a license is granted by FERC. To move forward, Rye must obtain a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and multiple authorizations from other federal and state agencies. In 2015, FERC denied a similar project proposed by the Klickitat County Public Utility District. Washington state recently started a critical public input opportunity by initiating the state environmental review process for the development. Ecology determined that the pumped storage hydroelectric development may lead to significant adverse impacts on the environment, which requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Now until February 12, Ecology needs public input to identify what must be included in the EIS.