Snake River Dams: Invest in Scienceby Editorial Board
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 30, 2007
Science, economics and the environment could come together in healthier ways along the lower Snake River. As officials plot healthier futures for salmon, new federal studies could provide valuable guidance.
Environmental groups have been working with U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., and Tom Petri, R-Wis., on a bill requiring studies looking at aspects of how salmon recovery is going with four Snake River dams. The McDermott-Petri measure envisions a National Academies of Science look at the biological effectiveness of recovery approaches and a Government Accountability Office review of existing studies looking at the potential costs and effects of partially or fully removing the four dams. The proposals would create more intelligent understanding of the issues.
Many along the lower Snake just want the questions to go away. But that's not likely to happen until real salmon recovery is further along.
Bonneville Power Administration chief Steve Wright says a recent study for environmental advocates completely missed the mark on dam removals' costs and benefits. Although he doesn't see the value, we believe the studies could replace heat with light.
McDermott has advocated collaborative, realistic approaches to issues on the Snake and the rest of the Columbia River system. The studies would offer some common language to groups that often talk past one another. Knowledge should generate good hydropower decision-making.
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