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Commentaries and editorials

Radical Environmentalists Prefer
You Not Know These Facts

by Marvin F. Dugger
Lewiston Tribune, January 18, 2022

The four lower Snake River dams are the cleanest,
most environmentally friendly sources of energy in the world.

Graphic: Wild Chinook runs to the Lower Snake River as counted at the highest dam in place at the time. (1961-2020) We live in a time where everything is heavily politicized, where talking heads on television pretending to be news reporters tell us what to think and individuals working as reporters for newspapers pretend to report news when in truth they are dealing in partisan propaganda, mostly liberal. Unless you are a person who wants to know both sides of the issues, it is easy to accept everything you read or hear as fact.

The newspaper that you are reading right now is partisan liberal.

The Democratic Party has become the party of radical environmentalism. The environmental movement is incredibly wealthy and wields tremendous political power, but it is a belief system that makes no sense. They condemn cattle for belching and farting because it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but they support the land management policies that create the horrific wildfires that have devastated the West for the last two decades. These fires have released untold billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These same groups want to destroy the four lower Snake River dams. The Snake River dams are an efficient energy source that produces little if any pollution.

The Lewiston Tribune recently ran a series of front-page news articles titled "River of Change" about the removal of two small dams on the Elwha River in eastern Washington. The purpose of these commentaries was to compare the impact of removing these small dams to the effects of breaching the four lower Snake River dams.

This entire series was written from the perspective of those whose agenda is to breach the Snake River dams and should have been labeled editorials, not news stories. The article is quick to give credence to the opinions of radical environmental organizations and tribal factions, without regard to opposing facts and different points of view.

The Dec. 12 headline, "When dams fell, fish returned," about the Elwha River dams, is a prime example of non-objective reporting. The lead sentence read: "Could a similar scenario play out on the Snake River?"

The Elwha Dam was 4.9 miles from the ocean and the Glines Canyon Dam was 8 miles upriver from there. Neither of these dams had any fish passage. The silt buildup behind them totaled about 26 million cubic yards. The inland most dam on the Snake River is more than 400 miles from the ocean. All four Snake River Dams are equipped with the most modern fish passage system in the world. The silt buildup behind the Snake River dams is about 180 million cubic yards and contains residual amounts of industrial and agricultural chemicals, all of which would empty into the Columbia River and then have to pass through four more dams on its way to the ocean.

The article claims a 1-1.7 smolt-to-adult return on the Snake River from data collected at Lower Granite Dam. It then claims a 4% to 5% return rate on the John Day River. There are no dams, hatcheries or fish collection facilities on the John Day River. How can they collect this information?

Comparing the Elwha River dams to the Snake River dams makes no sense. The Elwha and Glines dams are antiquated facilities whose useful life was at an end. The lower Snake River dams are some of the most modern, technologically sophisticated dams in the world.

Environmental groups claim that the dams are killing the salmon and driving the Snake River runs to extinction. But if you look, you can find plenty of research disproving their claims. Citizens for the Preservation of Fish and Dams presented undisputable evidence to Tribune staff proving that anadromous fish and dams can and do coexist. The largest runs of fish ever recorded returning through the Columbia River system happened from 2000 to 2009, a 10-year period beginning 25 years after the completion of the final dam on the Snake River. This information was never reported, except in this column.

Dam breaching advocates continually claim that dams have increased the water temperature in the Snake River and the increase is killing fish. Based on temperature data before the dams from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' "Lower Snake River Temperature Data 1952-57," this is not true. In fact, the average water temperature is basically unchanged. There are a lot of facts like this that you will never see because the Tribune will not report them.

After hearing and seeing so much contradicting information, Citizens for the Preservation of Fish and Dams decided to go to Lower Granite Dam and talk to the experts. We found the dam to be a technological marvel staffed by highly intelligent and capable personnel. People from all over the world come to study the dam and its fish bypass system.

After a couple of hours of questioning, we observed a staff discouraged by political interference in the process and frustrated from being required to enact procedures that they knew were hurting or killing the fish. They also seemed upset at having to revisit tried and failed policies and not being able to implement practices they believe would help the fish.

The four lower Snake River dams are the cleanest, most environmentally friendly sources of energy in the world. The decision of whether or not to tear them out is by far the most consequential issue that the citizens of the Northwest will face in this century. The repercussions of their removal would be felt by nearly every industry and resident of our region.

Biased headlines, one-sided stories and opinions of so-called scientists and biologists who were likely paid by anti-dam organizations make it nearly impossible for anyone to get an objective view of the complex problems of vanishing fish runs in the Snake River drainage. The anti-dam crowd doesn't want you to know both sides of the issue. It will destroy their argument.

Related Pages:
Breach the Lower Snake River Dams and We Will Lose Our Fish by Marvin F. Dugger, Lewiston Tribune, 8/1/21
Saving Salmon is a Ruse for Breaching Our Dams by Marvin F. Dugger, Lewiston Tribune, 3/14/21
What About the Dams? by Marvin F. Dugger, Lewiston Tribune, 11/3/19

Marvin F. Dugger retired as a journeyman carpenter from Clearwater Paper. He lives in Lewiston.
Dick Sherwin co-authored this Opinion
Radical Environmentalists Prefer You Not Know These Facts
Lewiston Tribune, January 18, 2022

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