Public Comment Encouraged on Snake River Dam Removal Plan / Public News Service

A report from Washington state leaders outlines how services at four dams on the lower Snake River could be replaced to save struggling salmon species in the area. Now the public has the opportunity to comment.

The disorganized comes from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and found it plausible to replace dams and the services they provide, including agriculture, transportation and production of energy.

Erin Farris-Olsen, regional executive director of the Northern Rockies and Prairies for the National Wildlife Federation, said her organization supports the removal of dams.

“The report itself comes as no surprise to many of us who saw the Lower Snake River Dams as an opportunity for our Northwest future,” Farris-Olsen noted. “Removing the dams is indeed possible, and it’s really essential to avoid salmon extinction.”

The estimated cost of the plan is between $10 billion and $27 billion. A rally this Saturday in Portland will call for the removal of the dam to save the salmon. Proponents of the dams include Republicans in Washington State, who say now is not the time to remove dams producing reliable power, especially with energy prices soaring across the country.

The report points out that climate change could affect the productivity of hydroelectric dams. He said the drought and low snowpack were already affecting their usefulness and suggested replacing the dams with other renewable energy sources.

Farris-Olsen pointed out that the region has spent billions of dollars on salmon restoration efforts that have not worked, and believes this should be taken into account when considering the price of dam removal. .

“It’s not just a cost to remove the dams,” Farris-Olsen argued. “It’s an investment in energy infrastructure that will be the future of the North West.”

Farris-Olsen added that the region is lucky there are still salmon to protect, but it won’t have that luxury if action isn’t taken quickly.

“As a salmon fisherman myself, it’s been difficult to convey the sense of urgency because the species themselves are so resilient,” Farris-Olsen acknowledged. “They’re coming back, even though they’re coming back in record numbers.”

Public comments on Inslee and Murray’s draft report are expected by July 11. Ultimately, the power rests with Congress to approve violation of federally operated dams.

Disclosure: The National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on climate change/air quality, endangered species and wildlife, energy policy, environment, public lands/ wilderness, salmon retrieval and water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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