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Rep. Newhouse Hosts Community Roundtable on
Agriculture and Lower Snake River Dams

by Justin Berger
KEPR, March 22, 2022

"If we lose the barge system, we lose that competition and
we will see our rates for transportation significantly increase,"

-- Michelle Hennings, Washington Association of Wheat Growers

Washington representatives to Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse Tri-Cities, WA -- Congressman Dan Newhouse spent this morning engaging in a round table discussion with local leaders about the intersection between the Snake River Dams and agriculture.

Agriculture and the transportation of that product plays a tremendous role in the Columbia Basin, and the threat of breaching the four lower Snake River Dams has plenty concerned.

"The numbers prove us out, that dams and salmon can absolutely coexist," said Rep. Newhouse.

"I wish that were true with these four dams, but the accumulative effect that we've been watching for decades is that these salmon, and steelhead frankly, are on a trajectory to go extinct within the next five years according to a study by the Nez Perce," said Executive Director of the NSIA Liz Hamilton.

Hamilton says it's time to try something new, breaching four Snake River dams. After spending billions over the last half-century, the methods used have failed the salmon population, but change has some concerned for other reasons as well.

"In an era when you're trying to be as environmentally conscience as possible, why would you remove the dams that produce carbon-free electricity every day?" said Rep. Newhouse. "Baseload power that we depend on in this region that prevents having blackouts and brownouts. In an era when we're trying to find new sources of energy, we've got the cleanest, most renewable source in these dams."

"We can deliver the services of the river, and we need to," said Hamilton. "I don't think anyone who has ever supported breaching the four lower snake river dams supports doing so without delivering the benefits that the river already delivers to the people here in this region."

However, energy isn't the only interest at stake.

"If we lose the barge system, we lose that competition and we will see our rates for transportation significantly increase," said Executive Director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers Michelle Hennings.

"No one is talking about taking the dams out and leaving farmers in their needs to transport high and dry," said Hamilton. "And there is also a pretty good sensitivity to not subjecting them to price increases which would be very difficult to their narrow margins."

Those who spoke with Newhouse on Tuesday were concerned with the costs of not only removing the dams but what would come after.

If barges weren't available to move products up and down the river, Rob Rich, who is the president of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association noted that the transportation impact could cost more than a billion dollars and prove detrimental to the production of CO2 and other harmful emissions.

"That's why I say there is no silver bullet," said Director of the Center for the Environment at Washington Policy Center Todd Myers. "We can acknowledge that the dams in the past have done harm and that they continue to have an impact without saying therefore we ought to spend an ungodly amount of money to destroy them."

Myers noted that he thinks spring and summer Chinook on the Snake River will go up and that several environmental groups said the population will go down. He proposed a $50 bet to charity for the winner.

He hasn't had any takers yet.

Related Pages:
Murray, Inslee Bend to Political Hostage-Taking by Rep. Dan Newhouse, KEPR, 10/28/21
Stay Out of My Backyard, Rep. Simpson, and I'll Stay Out of Yours by Rep. Dan Newhouse, Lewiston Tribune, 5/27/21
Rep. Newhouse, Dams in Your District are Doing Damage to Mine by Rep. Mike Simpson, Lewiston Tribune, 5/29/21

Justin Berger
Rep. Newhouse Hosts Community Roundtable on Agriculture and Lower Snake River Dams
KEPR, March 22, 2022

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