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Commentaries and editorials

Disagreement Over American Rivers Report

by Glenn Vanselow
Columbia Basin Bulletin - January 30, 2004

We disagree with American Rivers' claim that costs would be "very modest" to shift cargo from barge to rail. The study they cite actually states such costs are "estimated to exceed $1 billion". They claim shipping grain would increase only between 2.9 to 7.1 cents/bushel. Today, even with competition, shipping by rail costs twice as much as by barge. Without the competition, rail rates will go much higher.

The study does not change the basic facts.

Breaching dams is extreme and risky. It creates huge economic impacts with little or no benefit for fish. It ignores the fact that juvenile survival has doubled since the 1970s and adult returns have been at record levels for four straight years.

Breaching dams is expensive. Dismantling dams will cost over $1 billion. Transportation costs will exceed $1 billion. Electricity sufficient to power the city of Seattle will be lost. And, it takes out irrigated agriculture.

Breaching dams is bad for the environment. Hydropower does not pollute the air. Barging consumes 60-89% less fuel and produces 75-90% fewer emissions than rail or truck.

Let's not let the misguided arguments of dam breaching proponents divert us from the important work that is under way to rebuild fish runs and protect our environment while maintaining a vibrant Northwest economy.

Related Pages:
Conservation Groups Contend Snake River Dams Can Go Nicholas K. Geranios, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1/23/4

Glenn Vanselow, Executive Director Pacific Northwest Waterways Association
Disagreement Over American Rivers Report
Columbia Basin Bulletin, January 30, 2004

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