Salmon, Wheat and Pacific Northwest HydroPower

The final draft of a federal report includes a call for removing the four lower Snake River dams.

REPORT: Rebuilding Interior Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead:

“This is a crucial time for the Columbia Basin’s salmon and steelhead. They face increasing pressure from climate change and other longstanding stressors including water quality and fish blockages caused by dams. The report identifies goals for the recovery of salmon and steelhead that will require a sustained commitment over many decades.” Full news release

Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries and acting assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at NOAA

“To say I’m deeply disappointed by the Biden Administration’s report on “Rebuilding Interior Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead” is an understatement. While the report claims to support efforts to “ensure a reliable, affordable, and carbon-free energy supply,” it also explicitly calls for the removal of the four Lower Snake River dams. Let me be clear: there is no clean energy future in Washington State and throughout the Pacific Northwest without these hydroelectric dams. Full Press Release

Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-Wash)
Recommendations of Washington Governor Inslee and Senator Murray:

“We have heard a new willingness to consider changes to the Lower Snake River Dams, in whole or in part, that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. And we have heard universal recognition that protecting salmon, acting against climate change, strengthening our region’s economy, and addressed the centuries of injustice visited upon the region’s Tribes should be core components of any path forward… We are adamant that in any circumstance where the Lower Snake River Dams would be breached, the replacement and mitigation of their benefits must be pursued before decommissioning and breaching.” Full news release

Recommendations by Governor Inslee & Senator Murray

REPORT: Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Report
The Lower Snake River Dams (LSRD) produce 900 average megawatts (aMW) of electricity annually and up to 3,033 MW of power at peak capacity, helping to meet peak power loads and contributing to the reliability of the power transmission grid. Energy from the LSRD is non-emitting and represents about 4.3% of all generation within the Pacific Northwest energy system. The LSRD have the ability to quickly ramp up energy production within minutes to meet loads. The Columbia Basin hydroelectric system, which includes the LSRD, contribute to some of the lowest power rates for customers in the Pacific Northwest, compared to other rate payers in the US. In terms of electricity production, Washington will need an additional 107 TWh, or 12,000 aMW, of clean electricity to fully decarbonize by 2050.
Salmon and steelhead have declined by over 90% compared to their pre-dam abundances in the Columbia and Snake River system. Irrigators use the reservoirs and elevated groundwater levels created by the LSRD to pull water for irrigation. Studies found the energy generated by the LSRD could be replaced by a clean energy portfolio that would rely primarily on increased solar and wind generation, energy storage, energy efficiency, and demand response. While all parts of the transportation network would be affected if the LSRD were to be breached, barge transportation would be most impacted.

“The dams play a vital role in providing a safe, efficient and affordable way for wheat farmers to get their product to market. We are glad the recommendations released by Senator Murray and Governor Inslee recognize the role these dams play in agriculture and acknowledge dam breaching is not feasible at present. Wheat farmers move grain most efficiently by using the waterway instead of rail or truck while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Full blog

Chandler Goule, CEO National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG)

VIDEO: Should the Snake River dams stay or go?

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VIDEO: Remove the Dams to Save the Salmon?

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