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Threat to Dam Removal as Real as Ever

by Representative Doc Hastings, R-Wash.
Press Release, April 12, 2006

Washington, D.C. - In a speech to the Moses Lake Rotary today Congressman Doc Hastings cautioned that the threat of dam removal is as real as ever, and highlighted the need to protect the clean, low-cost hydropower that Northwest families, farms and businesses depend upon. Hastings is spending the week focusing on energy policy.

Citing actions by federal Judge Redden to increase the spill of water through the dams and the ongoing campaign of extreme environmental groups Hastings said, "there is no room for complacency." "The threat to our dams is as real as ever, and possibly even greater now that a federal judge is taking control of the entire river system."

Hastings urged that all Northwest elected officials stand united in opposition to dam removal.

This afternoon Hastings will be briefed on the latest energy research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Tomorrow he will participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the WSU-PNNL Bioproducts and Engineering Science Laboratory and tour the Terrace Heights power plant in Yakima.

Excerpts from Hastings' prepared remarks at the Moses Lake Rotary follow:

"This week I am traveling throughout Central Washington meeting with folks like you and talking about one of the most pressing issues of our day: energy. Every time this issue is debated in the "other" Washington, I am reminded of how fortunate we are here, in the "real" Washington, to have access to clean renewable hydropower.

The dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers have provided a foundation of reliable low-cost electricity upon which our economy has grown and prospered. And these dams come with other well-known benefits as well - irrigation, navigation, flood control, and recreation. At the same time, we have made great, great strides in making these facilities more fish-friendly...

Today I was at Ice Harbor Dam looking at the latest technology being employed to improve salmon survival through the hydrosystem. Last year, a Removable Spillway Weir, or "RSW" was installed at Ice Harbor by the Corps of Engineers. This followed a prototype installed at Lower Granite Dam in 2001. This device allows juvenile salmon to pass through the dam at the water's surface, rather than being forced through 50 feet below, where the spillway gate opens. The result is a much more fish-friendly passage through the dam for the salmon. The RSW uses much less water to move these fish than occurs with regular spill. This leaves more water behind the dam for power generation or other purposes. Although the cost of these spillway weirs is considerable, they conserve so much water for power generation they pay for themselves in a few years. The RSWs are just one example of the kind of technological improvements being made to aid salmon populations.

Despite these many successful investments, however, there continues to be a radical minority that seeks to sacrifice the many tremendous benefits of our dams in the name of fish recovery. Some are quite direct about their intent to breach our dams, while others pursue a more subtle strategy of slowly chipping away at these benefits hoping that we will eventually give up on the fight...

Depending on what happens in Judge Redden's court, it may be that the fate of our hydrosystem has to be determined at a political level - not only in the halls of Congress, but in the state capitals of Olympia, Salem, Boise, and Helena as well. That means your elected officials will need to stand-up to defend Central Washington's way-of-life from the dam-busting agendas of extreme environmental groups.

As I have said before and said loudly, I will do everything in my power as Congressman to protect our dams. Every candidate who asks for your vote should tell you exactly where they stand on protecting our dams. You should not only expect a direct answer, you should demand one. There is no room for complacency - the threat to our dams is as real as ever, and possibly even greater now that a federal judge is taking control of the entire river system. And there is no room for any official trying to sidestep the issue or wave-off the question with excuses that the fate of our dams is "in the courts" or "before a judge." That's precisely the problem. That's the danger.

Dam breaching should simply not be on the table - and you have a right to expect your elected leaders to take a strong, clear position on the agenda of these extreme groups - whether the group is pushing dam removal directly or going about it indirectly by increasing the spill of water, holding-up the dredging of the Snake River barge channel, and other tactics. Ask your leaders where they stand on these questions, because the time may well be coming when they will need to act - don't wait until it's too late to find out whether they are going to stand up for you."

Representative Doc Hastings , R-Wash.
Hastings: Threat to Dam Removal as Real as Ever
Press Release, April 12, 2006

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