Bush Supports Keeping Snake River Damsby Oregon Considered
Listen Oregon Public Radio - August 22, 2003
PORTLAND, OR - President Bush took his tour of the Northwest to Seattle for a political fundraiser. But not before visiting the Ice Harbor Dam in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington. The president talked to a friendly crowd about the region's salmon recovery efforts. "Oregon Considered" host Allison Fost talks with reporter Jeff Brady about what President Bush had to say.
Allison Frost: The Ice Harbor Dam is that one of the four on the Snake River that environmentalists want removed?
Jeff Brady: It is in fact it's the first of the four dams on the Snake River it's located near where the Snake and Columbia meet. President Bush toured the dam and assured a crowd of supporters that it will remain in place. Bush said he's concerned about fish, but that's not all. Here he is:
George W. Bush: We're also concerned about the citizens of Washington State who depend on the dams for electricity and the water to water their land so we can have the crops necessary to eat in America. Look, the economy of this part of the world has relied on the steady supply of hydropower and we got a energy problem in America. We don't need to be breaching any dams that are producing electricity (cheers).
JB: The President also repeated a lot of the same themes we heard from him in Redmond yesterday that local people know best how to manage natural resources and that he wants to use cooperation rather than confrontation to solve these problems specifically he wants the legal battles over both fish and forests to stop. This is understandable considering that environmentalists have won a lot of those court fights.
AF: Is there a sense that the president's trip might spur the kind of "cooperation" that Bush is talking about?
JB: No. Environmental groups came out swinging as soon as they heard the president was scheduled to visit the dam. They had a lot of critical things to say about the president's remarks. Here's Rob Masonis with American Rivers in Seattle.
Rob Masonis: I think the president is trying to take advantage of the recent returns to tout his environmental record and to show the residents of the Pacific Northwest that salmon are on the right path. Our point is that we need to be giving credit where credit is due here and credit is due primarily to Mother Nature for the good ocean conditions that we've been experiencing.
JB: The other thing to point out is that the good salmon runs are made mostly of hatchery fish, which environmentalists consider genetically inferior to their wild cousins. That's a distinction that's often lost, and some people say it really doesn't matter.
And there are a lot of people who really like what the president had to say. Many farmers, a declining number of steelworkers and just the general economies of a lot of small towns east of the mountains really depend on these dams. The lives of these people would be very different if the dams didn't exist and they aren't going to give them up easily.
AF: Jeff, thank you for joining us.
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