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Commentaries and editorials

Rep. Jim McDermott Wants to
Study Snake River Dam Removal

by Richard Wagoner
The Seattle Times, August 4, 2009

Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott has jumped into the Snake River dam controversy with legislation that calls for studying the impact of removing the four Lower Snake River dams to aid salmon recovery in the Columbia Basin.

"The extinction of several species of salmon is not theoretical," McDermott said in a statement today. "Within the next 10 years, several species of Snake River salmon are expected to disappear forever unless we act now to restore and protect salmon and steelhead across the Pacific Northwest."

According to McDermott's statement:

H.R. 3503 calls for independent and comprehensive studies of the issues affecting salmon recovery efforts, including: scientific analysis of the impact of the removal of the four Lower Snake River dams on salmon protection and restoration; energy replacement alternatives should the four dams be removed; a transportation infrastructure study to determine improvements needed in rail or surface roads; and studying how to protect existing irrigated agricultural lands.
"Doing nothing is an option we cannot afford, economically or ethically," McDermott said.

The bill drew a quick response from Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, a staunch opponent of dam removal.

Hastings said in a statement:

"One of first places this dam removal bill will land in Congress is on my desk as the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, and I pledge to do everything in my power to stop it.

"Dam removal is an extreme action that would have devastating consequences on our region's economy. These four dams are valuable components of the Northwest's clean, low-cost hydropower system that thousands and thousands of jobs rely upon. Dam removal would kill jobs, lead to huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions, and there's no scientific proof that it would actually guarantee salmon recovery."

The bill, called the Salmon Solutions and Planning Act, is cosponsored by 24 other representatives, including Republican Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin.

No other Washington state Congress members have signed on.

You can read a copy of the bill here.

Richard Wagoner
Rep. Jim McDermott Wants to Study Snake River Dam Removal
The Seattle Times, August 4, 2009

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