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Commentaries and editorials

Another Year, and Lower Snake River Dams
Removal Activists Continue to Press

by Colin Hastings
Tri-City Herald, April 30, 2021

Musical director Brook Black of Pasco leads a rendition of Like Groundhog Day, the Progress Edition article from the Pasco Chamber of Commerce has always featured an element of the importance of the Lower Snake River Dams to our region and the Northwest. Once again, this year is no different.

Last year's Progress report took to task Gov. Jay Inslee's Orca task force study of removal of the dams in response to the dire state of the southern resident orca population and the pod's loss of a calf. This turned out to be a waste of our taxpayer dollars, since the study concluded that "residents remain deeply divided" on this topic.

In addition, the Army Corp of Engineers had just concluded its multi-million dollar and multi-year draft environmental impact study on our hydropower system and found that keeping the Lower Snake River Dams is the preferential option. I summarized by stating that the fate of the dams are in the U.S. House of Representatives' hands.

I should be careful what I say. Earlier this year, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, released a proposal to remove the Lower Snake River dams -- at a price tag of over $34 billion. To be clear, there is no legislation. But that price tag should prove the value of these dams.

That is more than NASA's 2019 estimates of $20 billion to $30 billion to get man back to the moon. Tokyo Olympics has a $13.5 billion price tag. And it's 12 times the cost of SoFi Stadium in California, which well exceeded the original budget of $2.5 billion.

So, removing over 1,000 megawatts of carbon-free energy when an additional 4,000 megawatts of fossil fuel is coming off the grid in the next handful of years makes absolutely no sense. I don't believe there will be unanimous support from our Northwest congressional delegation for Rep. Simpson's proposal, but we should fear what the Biden Administration might do with this fissure. During the Clinton Administration, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt made an effort to remove the Lower Snake River Dams, yet we as a community fought back and won.

The Pasco Chamber has taken the position that our resources are better served to focus on speedy environmental rehabilitation of Puget Sound and its salmon-bearing rivers to have the greatest positive impact on the recovery of the Pacific Salmon.

To be proactive on this topic, we launched "RiverFest, Our Rivers, Our Way of Life" community event in September 2018. Over the years, we have partnered with over 150 organizations from around the Northwest to tell their story of how the river system is important to them.

With a lot of support and help from the community, we had over 7,000 people attend this family friendly event that featured hands on activities for children and educational facts for the community highlighting the importance of our river system. RiverFest even inspired Congress to host a congressional field hearing for the House Natural Resources Committee to discuss the Lower Snake River Dams.

Unfortunately, we couldn't continue this tradition again last fall because of COVID-19, but we pivoted to take advantage of the situation and take our message digital. We produced a documentary titled "Our Rivers, Our Life" and broadcast it on locally on KVEW TV reaching over 16,000 households in Eastern Washington and Northeastern Oregon, and launched a digital campaign targeting the I-5 corridor producing nearly 1,000,000 impressions. And we are attempting to further engage the Seattle area featuring "Our Rivers, Our Life" on broadcast TV. You can watch sections and the whole feature at

Related Pages:
Pasco Chamber of Commerce: Standing Up for Our Way of Life by Colin Hastings, Tri-City Herald, 4/23/20
When it Comes to Dams, Lawmakers Need To Be United by Colin Hastings, Tri-City Herald, 3/2/18

Colin Hastings, Executive Director Pasco Chamber of Commerce
Another Year, and Lower Snake River Dams Removal Activists Continue to Press
Tri-City Herald, April 30, 2021

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