BOISE — A Lewiston lawmaker called U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson a “traitor” and demanded his resignation Thursday in response to Simpson’s $33 billion plan to remove the four dams on the lower Snake River.
Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, R-Lewiston, posted the message on his Facebook page.
“Mike Simpson has shown his true colors as a traitor to the people of the great state of Idaho,” von Ehlinger wrote. “(He) has repeatedly put Idaho last on issue after issue. Make no mistake, this plan will destroy Idaho as we know it, and I won’t stand for it. Therefore, as your District 6 representative, I hereby call on Congressman Mike Simpson to immediately resign.”
Simpson’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Simpson released the plan for discussion last weekend. He described it as “a concept that could end the Northwest salmon wars.”
In addition to removing the four lower Snake River dams, it includes billions of dollars for everything from rail improvements to compensation for farmers and businesses, to local economic development funding and replacing lost hydropower with renewable energy.
“It would lock in a more certain future for agriculture, energy, transportation and communities, and also give Idaho’s wild salmon and steelhead their best chance for survival,” Simpson said.
Von Ehlinger disagreed with that assessment.
“It would be absolutely devastating to our region, our agricultural industry and our state’s economy overall,” he wrote.
In an interview following Thursday’s House floor session, von Ehlinger said calling Simpson a traitor might be “a bit harsh,” but he won’t apologize for that.
“I feel that a message needs to be sent to any leader who puts forth a plan that would devastate their own state,” he said. “We all want to save the salmon and improve salmon runs, but I’m not prepared to do that by impoverishing our entire region.”
In an op-ed piece, Simpson said stakeholders need to start talking about solutions, instead of clinging to their “hell, no” positions.
“It would be a tragedy if future generations looked back and wished that the current Northwest leaders and stakeholders would have at least taken the time to explore this opportunity,” he said.