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Opposition to Dam Breaching Grows

by Emily Simnitt
The Idaho Statesman, March 8, 2001

About 58 percent of Idahoans oppose breaching the lower four Snake River dams -- an increase from the 40 percent who opposed the idea last year, according to the Boise State University 12th Annual Idaho Public Policy Survey.

Only 32 percent said they support the proposal, down from 40 percent last year, and 10 percent were uncommitted this year, while 20 percent said they were neutral last year.

While there's no way to know for sure what caused the shift, John Freemuth, a BSU professor of political science and senior fellow at the Cecil Andrus Center for Public Policy, offered some ideas.

"It could have been a response to the roadless issue and other Clinton policies," Freemuth said. People already upset over Clinton's environmental policies could have extended their distrust to the dam-breaching issue, he said.

It also could be that dam-breaching opponents have been making a better case, Freemuth said.

The degree of opposition varies by region. The strongest opposition to the idea of removing the earthen portions of the dams, at 78.5 percent, was in Lewiston -- the place geographically closest to the Washington dams.

In southeast Idaho -- the area of the state furthest from the dams -- 52 percent of respondents opposed breaching. That was the lowest percentage of all six regions. It was in southeast Idaho as well that the highest number of respondents among all the regions supported breaching, at 43 percent.

In addition to dam breaching, the survey asked Idahoans to give their opinion on a variety of topics. Here are some other findings:

Emily Simnitt
Opposition to Dam Breaching Grows
The Idaho Statesman, March 8, 2001

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