Pumped storage energy project in NW could destroy sacred tribal resources
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Critics say a proposed hydroelectric project in the Columbia River Gorge could damage cultural resources for nearby tribes.
The company Rye Development has proposed building a pumped-energy storage facility in south central Washington state. Pumped storage uses two reservoirs at different elevations to generate and store power.
Simone Anter, staff attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper, said the Goldendale Energy Storage Hydroelectric Project would be the largest of its kind in the Northwest. It would require excavation to build two big pools, as well as structures underground.
"We're talking about a huge development and digging that would destroy archaeological sites as well as cultural resources," Anter contended.
The Yakama Nation has opposed past attempts to build pumped storage in the area and is opposing this project because of the potential impact on culturally significant tribal sites. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation said the project could impact access to their cultural resources in the region.
Rye Development said the project will bring renewable energy to the Northwest without requiring the building of more dams.
Anter countered the project should not be considered green because of its effects on sacred sites and already burdened communities.
"If we want to have a just clean energy transition, we must listen to the concerns of impacted communities and work together on siting instead of full steam ahead like we have done in the past with other energy projects," Anter argued.
Anter added the project still needs licensing and approval at the state and federal levels.
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