the film
Commentaries and editorials

Northwest Dams

by James B. Langhelm
The News Tribune, March 4, 2021

(Steven Lane) Hundreds of wind turbines rise from the dryland wheat country of eastern Klickitat County, where wind farms are permitted outright under county zoning. Re: “Dam removal plan good for fish, farms,” (TNT letter, 2/28).

How can this letter writer consider the lower Snake River dams to have “outlived their usefulness” when both Washington and Idaho depend on them for electrical power?

The Snake River supports 27 dams. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson needs to look in his own backyard before condemning Washington’s dams, because his state has nine on the Snake.

Washington’s four dams have provisions for fish passage, while Idaho’s first three in Hells Canyon have none.

Washington’s lower Snake dams together are the largest source of clean, renewable electricity in the Pacific Northwest. Their waterways support agricultural navigation into Idaho.

Washington’s Snake River hydro system provides a consistent irrigation source that’s led to the most efficient, productive agricultural operation on the planet while relieving the heavy draw on the Snake River Plain aquifer.

In economic terms, Snake River irrigators farm millions of acres yielding millions of dollars annually to household incomes and the agricultural industry, with the impact felt throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Improving poorly managed and politically influenced salmon recovery programs is significantly better than destroying this vital infrastructure.

James B. Langhelm, Gig Harbor
Northwest Dams
The News Tribune, March 4, 2021

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