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Save the Salmon; Build More Nukes

by Steve Williams
Daily Press, March 25, 2008

In an essay in the Los Angeles Times last week, the president of the Sierra Club, Steve Williams, called for the elimination of four dams erected in the headwaters of the Snake River decades ago in the high country of Idaho, Oregon and Washington State.

The dams were built for two reasons: to supply electrical power to the upper northwest, and to conserve water for future use. But the dams have contributed to the recently rapid decline of this country's wild salmon population. Pope blames that decline, in part, on global warming and its resultant effect on the temperature of the rivers and streams where wild salmon breed. To offset this temperature decline, Pope wants the dams destroyed so the migrating salmon can reach the much colder waters of the upper reaches of the Snake's headwaters, the Salmon River and its many branches and feeder streams.

While he says nothing about the loss of the water, he does mention the hydroelectricity. It should be replaced, he says, by "clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power." Those sources would not only supply power, they would cut into the emission of greenhouse gases by such traditional power generators as oil, coal and natural gas.

While we have no argument with Pope's contention that removal of the dams would go far to foster a return of the native salmon population to former levels - a highly desirable outcome - his energy replacement proposal is typically shortsighted and agenda-driven.

Notice, please, that he makes no mention of nuclear power as an alternative energy source. No environmental activist - and Pope's last name befits his stature in the environmental activism pantheon - ever does. The very word "nuclear" spawns amongst such people visions of ultimate, inevitable doom, more inevitable even than global warming itself. Global warming, in their view, does not represent nearly the threat that nuclear power generation does.

It's a good thing the French, the Brits, the Germans, the Japanese, the Russians, the Chinese, the Swedes, and even the Saudis, don't feel the same way. If they did, and if their nuclear plants didn't exist (and they all have plans for adding more) the current price of a barrel of oil wouldn't be $100 or higher; it would be at least twice that. On the other hand, in the long run that might be a good thing, since the higher the price, the more Americans, and the marketplace, will demand other sources. High on their list of those sources, we might add, is nuclear power. And it's climbing.

Steve Williams, Opinion Page Editor
Save the Salmon; Build More Nukes
Daily Press, March 25, 2008

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