the film
Commentaries and editorials

Arguments for Removal of Snake River Dams
are Laughable, Absurd

by Terry Flores
Seattle Times, August 23, 2011

The article, "Ruling brings opportunity to rebuild fisheries, expand green economy" (Viewpoint, 8-18) is rife with mischaracterizations, to put it politely. The authors claim to speak for Northwest businesses on the topic of a recent court ruling on a federal salmon plan. This is simply absurd.

If you look behind the curtain, those purporting to speak for "business" are merely anti-hydro and dam-removal extremists aligned with a small slice of specialty chefs, elite food retailers and commercial fishing representatives (all of whom could better help save wild salmon by not killing, selling or serving them) along with eco-apparel retailers.

This is hardly representative of Northwest businesses, which include farmers, ports, high-tech, manufacturing, food processing, wood products, energy generation and many, many more, including a myriad of small local enterprises.

Furthermore, the letter the authors reference - which asks President Barack Obama, members of Congress and Gov. Chris Gregoire to convene a new process to craft yet another salmon plan - suggests that they have conveniently forgotten the last six years when state, federal and tribal sovereigns worked together in an unprecedented collaborative process to do just that.

The plan for salmon that resulted from this process is being implemented and is working, as witnessed by record and near-record returns in many adult salmon runs this decade. The anti-hydro and dam-removal groups simply don't like the plan because it doesn't support their agenda for ripping out some of the Northwest's cleanest, greenest and most reliable soucres of power around - the hydro energy generated by the Snake River dams.

Fortunately, the public doesn't buy this nonsense. Polling done by DHM Research in Portland for several years now shows the public believes that removing the Snake dams is an extreme solution that would do more harm than good. In fact, the public's opposition to removing the Snake dams has only increased over time, from 68 percent opposed in 2007 to 73 percent opposed in 2011. And citizens consistently identify hydro energy as the Northwest's most practical, clean, reliable and renewable energy resource.

And the suggestion that the Snake River dams are "relatively small" is just laughable. They provide more than 1,000 megawatts of clean energy, enough to light a city the size of Seattle - and then some. They generate power to back up wind resources when the wind isn't blowing, which happens a lot. Along with the rest of the Northwest's hydro system, they generate billions of dollars for the Northwest's economy, provide hundreds of thousands of local, family-wage jobs and keep our carbon footprint half that of the rest of the country.
(bluefish notes: Flores is, in this last sentence, speaking of the entire NW hydroelectric system of which the four lower Snaker River dams represent about 4% of the power production.)

These jobs and environmental benefits certainly can't be replaced by a few "fishing and other salmon-based jobs" as the authors purport. And, isn't the aim of fishing to catch and kill the very salmon these folks say they want to protect? Sounds fishy to me.

Related Pages:
Judge's Ruling on NW Salmon Plan Asks for Clarity by Terry Flores, Seattle Times, 8/19/11
The Salmon Plan Gets a Solid "Yes, No, Maybe" from the Judge, by Terry Flores, The Oregonian, 8/13/11

Terry Flores is executive director of Northwest RiverPartners, an alliance of farmers, utilities, ports and business that promote the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake rivers and salmon-recovery policies based on sound science.
Arguments for Removal of Snake River Dams are Laughable, Absurd
Seattle Times, August 23, 2011

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