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Seattle Endorses Lower Snake Dam Breaching

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - September 1, 2000

The city of Seattle has endorsed breaching four lower Snake River dams in the interest of restoring salmon runs.

All eight Seattle City Council members voted for the resolution that also called for more conservation and renewable energy development, such as wind and solar power, to make up for the loss of generation. The resolution also recommended a "positive transition" for the communities that would be directly affected by removing the dams.

The City Council laid out a series of reasons for breaching the dams, recognizing studies that say removal of the dams is essential to restoration of Snake River salmon and citing U.S. Forest Service findings that "dam removal is the best possible means to restore wild salmon in the Snake River." If extinction were to occur, it says, "BPA will have violated its own statutory obligations, failed in its public trust obligations and jeopardized the continued generation and distribution of efficient, low cost, and environmentally responsible hydroelectric power."

The resolution recognizes the high returns of salmon this year, but says "biologists throughout the region agree that the threat of extinction of Snake River salmon is still very real and imminent and that the recent high returns should not be taken as a sign that the salmon crisis has been resolved...."

Even without the dams, which supply about five percent of the region's electricity, the City Council believes the region can still have low cost electricity even after breaching. Seattle, which is one of the Bonneville Power Administration's largest customers, expects residential customer utility bills to rise by about $1 per month if the dams are breached. Seattle is served by Seattle City Light, a city-operated utility. BPA markets the energy for the four dams.

But, according to the resolution, the city accepts the responsibility for their fair share of those rising costs in order to "fulfill our legal and moral obligations for salmon restoration."

Further delays in the breaching decision, the resolution says, will risk extinction of Snake River salmon, so it concludes the right course to take is breaching, along with the accelerated development of conservation and renewable energy resources and taking care of lower Snake River communities.

Link information:
City of Seattle:

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