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Commentaries and editorials

Lower Snake River Dams:
Rebuild Better

by Julie F. Rodwell
Seattle Times, December 4, 2020

A Tidewater barge is loaded with grain at the Lewis Clark Terminal at the Port of Lewiston on Monday. A study funded by the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association indicates breaching Snake River dams would increase regional transportation costs by $2.3 billion over the next 30 years. (Pete Caster photo) Re: "Salmon People: A tribe's decades-long fight to take down the Lower Snake River dams and restore a way of life" [Nov. 29, Environment]:

As an economist and transportation policy-analyst, I'd love to see a more balanced article on the Lower Snake River dams.

The harnessing of our wild rivers made our current economy possible. Electric power, irrigation water, river navigation to export crops -- where would our wheat, fruit and wine industries be without the modern river system? Answer: virtually nonexistent.

Before the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), the massive federal dam-building program seemed like a great thing to do. The rights and needs of Native Americans were largely ignored. The current Snake River dam removal environmental impact statement is an embarrassment.

I believe there are ways to rebuild the dam system with much better fish systems, and still have (more) carbon-free electricity. I believe that a redesigned river system, accommodating much greater fish passage, addressing sea level rise, replacing worn-out locks and generating much more hydro power is ours if we want it.

A new study, perhaps by Washington-Oregon alone, could develop this more balanced analysis.

Julie F. Rodwell, Bothell
Lower Snake River Dams: Rebuild Better
Seattle Times, December 4, 2020

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