the film
Commentaries and editorials

Dam Breaching and Shifting from Barge
to Rail are Not the Answers for Fish

by Pacific Northwest Waterways Association
Response Letter, February 2004

A response to American Rivers' January 16, 2004 press release and study release

To further justify its call to breach the four Snake River dams, on January 16, American Rivers released a transportation study they commissioned. They state that the costs are "very oddest" to shift cargo from barge to rail. The study they cite, in fact, says such costs "are estimated to exceed $1 billion".

American Rivers also says the cost for shipping grain would increase by 2.9 to 7.1 cents per bushel. That doesn't mesh with reality. Today, there is price competition between the two modes. According to Arvid Lyons, Manager of the Lewis-Clark Terminal Association, a major grain shipper based in Lewiston, Idaho, "We can ship grain by rail from Nampa, Idaho or by barge from Lewiston. Both are the same distance from Portland. To ship by rail from Nampa costs twice as much as shipping by barge from Lewiston." Without competition, rail rates are likely to increase even more.

More importantly, the study does not change the basic facts about dam breaching:

Breaching dams is extreme and it is risky.

Breaching dams is expensive. Breaching dams is bad for the environment.

Let's not let the misguided arguments of dam breaching proponents divert us from the important work that is under way to rebuild fish runs and protect our environment while maintaining a vibrant Northwest economy.

Pacific Northwest Waterways Association Dam Breaching and Shifting from Barge to Rail are Not the Answers for Fish
Response Letter, February 2004

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