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Commentaries and editorials

Gorton Blasts American Rivers Dam Removal Study

from U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA)
Press Release, October 1, 1999

Washington, D.C. - A study from American Rivers, a D.C. special interest group and a strong proponent of dam removal in the Pacific Northwest, drew fire from Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) today for claiming that highway and rail infrastructure improvements would offset the impact of removing the dams along the Snake River.

"This is more voodoo economics from another D.C. based special interest group which takes great pleasure in telling people and families of the Northwest how to live their lives," said Gorton. "It's a short-sighted suvey that overlooks three important factors of removing Snake River dams:

  1. The power production lost be removing those dams would raise residential bills for Northwest families and especially hurt senior citizens on fixed incomes, with the cost to the region hovering at roughtly $291 million year.
  2. Irrigation to the 37,000 acres of farmland served by the Snake River dams would be lost, displacing thousands of families to the tune of $9.2 million annually.
  3. Most importantly, the people of the Northwest don't want dam removal -- the region should debate and decide this issue -- not groups based in Washington, D.C. who don't have to live with the consequences."

Gorton referenced a July report released by the Army Corps of Engineers which quantified the economic impact ot the removal of the four Snake River dams as it relates to the region's water supply, navigation, and power production.

"We must consider the economic and social impacts of removal. In exchange for removing Snake River dams, we would lose hydro-power, which emits no pollutants into the air, for a thermal based power source that would jeopardize the clean air unique to the Northwest," said Gorton. "Further, more heavily-polluting trucks on our already congested roads to haul wheat and barley to coastal ports will have adverse effect on air quality and impose an additional financial burden on the family farm, which would force many of them to give up their land."

Earlier this year, several groups gained significant media attention by claiming that removing the four Snake River dams would bring a $300 million annual recreational windfall to the region. Their erroneous claims were later proved wrong when the Army Corps reported the actual number was about $67 million annualy.

"The bottom line is that if we remove the four dams to increase our chances of bringing a select number of salmon runs back by only 11%, the Northwest will suffer economic impacts of $299 to $342 million a year in perpetuity. This staggering figure doesn't even include the estimated $1 billion it would take to actually remove the dams," said Gorton. "Once again, I call upon dam removal advocates to abandon their cause and work with the region on cost-effective salmon recovery measures that can restore salmon runs and preserve our Northwest way of life."

Related Links:
Oink! Oink! George Magazine, February 1999
Senator's Update Sen. Slade Gorton, June 22, 1999
Gorton Blasts Dam Removal Columbia Basin Bulletin, July 30, 1999
Gorton: No Slush Fund for Dam Removal Columbia Basin Bulletin, June 16, 1999
Improving Salmon Recovery: More Local Decision Making Sen. Slade Gorton, Legislative Agenda, 1999

Slade Gorton - United States Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA)
Gorton Blasts American Rivers Dam Removal Study
Press Release - October 1, 1999

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