Stakeholder Talks Needed on Damsby Devin Monte
The Register-Guard, November 4, 2011
The editorial "Another dam bites the dust" (Oct. 25) says the lower Snake River dams are not likely to be removed soon because the government is spending "many millions on sophisticated fish-passage systems." But that's the iceberg's tip for exactly why they will be removed.
Each dam removal I'm familiar with has happened when its owner realized keeping it would cost more than removing it. The American people who own the lower Snake dams have spent many millions of dollars to keep the dams, with many more millions to come. And the federal government has provided no clear road map for getting Snake River salmon and steelhead off the endangered species list. That means the spending can't stop.
U.S. District Judge James Redden, in ruling the federal Columbia-Snake salmon plan illegal, ordered a new examination of lower Snake dam removal. I hope The Register-Guard agrees that an independent accounting of the dams' costs and benefits should be part of that examination.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers always has been happy to spend the people's money, whether or not it makes sense. But stakeholder talks among fishermen, farmers and energy users engaged in this issue could force an independent accounting.
That's why I agree with Sen. Jeff Merkley and Gov. John Kitzhaber, who support stakeholder talks. It's the fastest route to getting an honest cost-benefit picture of lower Snake dams so owners can make informed decisions about their future.
Lower Snake River - Revenue and Costs compiled by bluefish.org from BPA's Financial Choices Workshop & Power Function Review, 2004
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