Destroy the Dams, Save the Salmon,
by Rebecca Wodder
To say that all dams are beneficial and should be protected, as Shikha Dalmia maintains in her May 30 editorial-page commentary "Dam the Salmon," is as absurd as saying all dams are bad and should be removed.
American Rivers has signed dozens of agreements enabling hydroelectric dams to continue generating thousands of megawatts of electricity on rivers around the country. We have even supported expanding electricity generation at some dams.
But some dams are being removed because they are public safety hazards or they are no longer cost-effective for their owners to operate. For decades, hydro dams have been subsidized by taxpayer dollars, and are now used to subsidize all sorts of private interests. Are you supposed to be horrified when an outmoded 100-year-old factory closes its doors? Of course not. But that's exactly the sort of irrational economic logic Ms. Dalmia proposes should protect all hydro dams into the infinite future.
On the Klamath River, dam removal would help restore salmon runs, the backbone of local coastal economies. The California Energy Commission found that with the money PacifiCorp would spend to modernize the dams, the company could replace the entire Klamath project generation with a 170-megawatt wind plant, a 100-megawatt solar plant, or it could make efficiency upgrades to its distribution system. In short, removing the Klamath dams can be done without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
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