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Commentaries and editorials

Dam Breaching

by Noor Sodhi
Idaho Press, September 19, 2021

We will have to pay the costs of dam breaching in my lifetime.

Graphics: Predictions show natural-origin spawner abundance for the Snake River Basin will start to drop below the quasi-extinction threshold (50 spawners) within the next five years. (Molly Quinn/The Spokesman-Review) (Source: Nez Perce Tribe, Noor Sodhi research) "Replacing the benefits of the Snake River dams would cost billions..." 10.3 to 27.2 billion to be exact. What Friday's article didn't mention is the cost of the status quo.

Beyond the $17 billion already spent on failed salmon recovery efforts on the Lower Snake, these dams are a debt load for ratepayers in the region. Currently, the Bonneville Power Administration is over $15 billion in debt, largely due to the expenses of maintaining these four dams.

As BPA contracts end in the next five years, the agency will likely go bankrupt, as the dams can't compete with cheaper, cleaner solar and wind which has come onto the market. If Rep. Newhouse is concerned about his constituents' power bills now, wait until he hears that.

We will have to pay the costs of dam breaching in my lifetime. They are in violation of tribal treaties and the ESA, and they are too expensive to maintain. All we get to decide is when: will the dams come out before wild salmon and steelhead have gone extinct?

Noor Sodhi, Eagle
Dam Breaching
Idaho Press, September 19, 2021

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