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Commentaries and editorials

Another Dam Study?
Give Us a Break

by Editorial Board
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, January 20, 2019

Port of Lewiston commissioners voted to send letter to Washington governor opposing his budget proposal for study

Lower Granite Dam is a hydroelectric facility under review for removal after a federal judge dismissed a salmon protection plan as too weak. (Photo By: BPA) It's a new year, which means it is time for another round of "Let's study breaching the dams on the Snake River."

The contestant for the 2019 edition is Gov. Jay Inslee, who is making a top priority this year of trying to save the endangered orcas that live in Puget Sound.

Inslee wants to spend $750,000 to study whether taking out the four dams would help the Chinook salmon orcas depend on for food.

This would be a waste of taxpayer money.

Setting aside for just a moment whether breaching the dams is prudent or realistic -- it's not -- we'd remind Inslee that the idea of breaching the dams already has been extensively studied.

A 2001 study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for example, concluded breaching the Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams would increase the chances of salmon restoration only slightly and also badly hurt the region's economy.

Maybe the Corps isn't a good enough source for Inslee.

Well, fortunately the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries service also has studied the idea, and in 2014 concluded breaching the dams isn't necessary for the recovery of salmon or the orcas.

This was far from the first time NOAA had looked at the orcas' situation, as the agency developed recovery plans for the whales years earlier.

Saving orcas is an admirable goal, and we support rational measures to achieve it. Tearing out Eastern Washington's dams doesn't pass the "rational" test.

Washington taxpayers shouldn't be asked to throw money away on wasteful and unneeded research into a concept with such dim prospects for success.

Related Pages:
Speaker says Breaching the Dams is No Cure-all by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 1/18/19
River Advocate: Removing Dams Won't Help Orcas, Environment, Economy by Matthew Weaver, Capital Press, 1/18/19
After 20 Years and $1 Billion Spent on Washington State Salmon Programs, Fish Still Declining by Lynda Mapes, Seattle Times, 1/17/19
Killing Sea Lions Not the Answer by Peter A Conder, Seattle Times, 12/23/18

Editorial Board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart
Another Dam Study? Give Us a Break
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, January 20, 2019

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