Utilities could get more tax breaks
A study released today shows that breaching four federal dams on the lower Snake River could reduce barge and ocean container shipping operations on the Columbia-Snake river system, increase freight transportation costs, and add to highway and rail traffic.
Breaching of the four federal dams is one of several options under consideration to improve fish habitat and migration return rates for threatened or endangered salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia-Snake river system.
The study focused specifically on the impacts of dam breaching on the regional transportation system, rather than the broader, national impacts explored in a recently released study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service.
"Breaching the Lower Snake River Dams: Transportation Impacts in Oregon" was jointly sponsored by the Port of Portland, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation. The study was conducted by HDR Engineering Inc., a leading architecture and engineering consulting firm with offices in Tigard, Ore., in association with Ogden Beeman & Associates Inc. and TW Environmental Inc., both of Portland.
If the earthen portions of the lower Snake River dams were removed, the HDR Engineering study found:
"Finding the best strategy for achieving recovery of endangered salmon is going to require taking many factors into account. This study makes clear that regional transportation impacts should be one of those factors," said Mike Thorne, Port of Portland executive director. "Without the lower Snake River as a link between the interior Northwest and the deep-water ports on the lower Columbia River, road and rail systems in the region will become more congested while the costs of shipping will increase and access for our region to world markets will decrease."
- Barging on the Snake River would cease, resulting in shippers either trucking their freight further to ports on the Columbia River, or finding alternative means of transporting their goods to and from international port facilities. Most of the additional trucking would occur in Washington State.
- The reduced demand for barge service would result in a potential loss of income to the Columbia-Snake river barge industry of between $4 million and $11 million per year.
- Some 9,000 full export containers now shipped through the Port of Portland annually could be diverted to Puget Sound ports, or other shipping points such as the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast.
- Two or more ocean container carriers currently serving the Port of Portland may choose to stop calling. This would eliminate direct container service to and from South America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand, and could result in reduced container service between Portland and Asia.
- If the large volume of commodities that move on the Snake River by barge were shifted to truck and rail modes, the existing transportation system infrastructure, both roads and rails, may not be able to provide the same level of service as they do today.
- Agriculture land in eastern Oregon and Washington with yields of less than 45 bushels per acre could be taken out of production due to increased costs for inland transportation of grain.
Click on this link to the summary report of "Breaching the Lower Snake River Dams: Transportation Impacts in Oregon."
Aaron Ellis, Port (503) 944-7054
New Study Shows Transportation Impacts Of Dam Breaching
Port of Portland - Feb 23, 2000
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