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Breaching Dams on Snake River is Foolish Idea

by Editorial Board
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, August 22, 2009

Lower Granite, a federally owned and operated dam on the Lower Snake River. Yet, Rep. Jim McDermott has pitched legislation aimed at bringing them down even though they are a source of cheap and clean power.

As this nation seeks energy independence, U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott has introduced legislation aimed at breaching the Snake River dams.

What? It makes no sense.

Yet, McDermott, D-Pluto, is clinging to the idea preached by extreme environmentalists that breaching the dams will restore wild salmon runs. McDermott wants the National Academy of Science and four federal agencies to study the removal of the dams and-- here's the kicker -- authorizes the secretary of the Army to remove the dams.

This matter has been studied and studied. A 2001 inquiry by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded that breaching the dams would increase the chances of salmon restoration only slightly -- if at all -- while significantly hurting the Pacific Northwest's economy.

Taking down the dams would change the flow of the river, putting a lot of the region under water. It would force a significant change to irrigation systems, which would likely put an end to many agricultural operations. And crops and other goods could no longer be barged down the river forcing the products to be hauled by trucks on the roadways.

Now that's being environmentally irresponsible.

Another huge blow to the environment and the economy would be the loss of power generated as water flows through the turbines at the dams. That power could not be produced as cheaply or as cleanly any other way. McDermott doesn't care nor does he seem interested in listening to reason. Same goes for the 23 House members co-sponsoring this inane piece of legisaltion. All are liberal Democrats from the East Coast or California (except for Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.).

No, McDermott has just gotten snippy as he likened Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, and his Eastern Washington constituents who oppose dam breaching to members of the Flat Earth Society.

"They never would have sailed out of sight of land because they think the Earth is flat," McDermott said.

Hmmm. At least we are on this planet.

McDermott and his Seattle fan base are from another world.

So, how would they like to make up for the lost energy by having coal-fired plants located within smelling distance of their homes?

Not in their backyard. That's somebody else's problem. They're too busy attending benefits to save snails and moths to think about real-world consequences of tearing down dams.

McDermott's ill-conceived and poorly timed legislation is going nowhere. It has no support from the Republicans or Democrats in the Washington state congressional delegation. The leadership in the House and Senate isn't likely to embrace any plan that makes this nation even more dependent on foreign oil and boosts energy costs.

Still, it is irritating that McDermott and others are fixated on breaching the dams and putting the Northwest's economy under water.

Editorial Board
Breaching Dams on Snake River is Foolish Idea
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, August 22, 2009

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