June 22, 2021 (Klickitat County, WA) — The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) denied a key permit for the Goldendale Energy Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, proposed by Rye Development and National Grid (Rye). Without a Clean Water Act (CWA) 401 Certification, the project cannot proceed.
Ecology denied the permit because Rye failed to provide necessary information on major project impacts, including wetlands and streams, groundwater, and pollution from contaminated sites.
The development, proposed along the Columbia River in Klickitat County, Washington, would be the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. The massive pumped storage hydroelectric project along the Columbia River’s banks is estimated to use 2.93 million gallons of Columbia River water for initial fill and an additional 1.27 million gallons a year to offset evaporation and leakage.
The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation have vocally opposed this project since its inception, saying that the project would obliterate irreplaceable tribal cultural resources, including archeological, ceremonial, burial, petroglyph, monumental and ancestral use sites. “I am grateful that the concerns of the water resources are taken seriously by Ecology,” said Elaine Harvey, Kah-milt-pa Band Member, who works in Yakama Nation’s Fisheries Program. “It is true, water is life and needs to be protected for the environment and the future.”
Columbia Riverkeeper, Washington Chapter of the Sierra Club, American Rivers, and Washington Environmental Council submitted joint comments to Ecology on Rye’s 401 Application.
“Such a massive development, lacking sufficient information, and proposing to detrimentally destroy Tribal cultural resources, cannot be fast tracked through the permitting process under a green veneer,” says Simone Anter, Staff Attorney at Columbia Riverkeeper.
“Clean energy must be responsible energy,” said Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council/Washington Conservation Voters. “Today, we celebrate the permit denial by Ecology of a project that is not a solution to our climate crisis. We will continue working together to build out a clean energy future that embraces the connection between people and the environment.”
“Stopping climate change will take all of us working together, and this Goldendale proposal simply failed to address several major concerns,” said Jesse Piedfort, Sierra Club Washington State Chapter Director. “The Goldendale proposal disregards tribal treaty rights, threatens irreplaceable cultural resources, and harms fish, wildlife, and the Columbia River. We support Ecology’s decision and remain committed to safeguarding a livable climate in a just and equitable way.”
Rye can appeal Ecology’s denial or submit a new request for 401 certification.