the film
Commentaries and editorials

Times Change

by Jim Jones
Lewiston Tribune, May 10, 2020

Graphic: Survival of juvenile salmon from the Washington/Idaho border to beyond Bonneville Dam has averaged around 50% survival.  In other words, half of them die while migrating through the federal hydropower system. ... The New Deal under Franklin Roosevelt recognized the potential of hydroelectric power in the Pacific Northwest. It envisioned opening up new agricultural lands and providing opportunities fueled by this reliable, inexpensive power supply.

The Army Corps of Engineers began a decades-long process of damming rivers, ... and turning their management over to the Bonneville Power Administration. The program worked and our region has thrived. ...

Toward the latter part of the century, however, we realized that we had ignored a major environmental issue. ...

Huge numbers of salmon and steelhead were lost due to their inability to migrate to/from their spawning areas in the Columbia and Snake river systems.

Over time, other energy sources have changed the landscape of power supply across the western U.S. Wind, solar and natural gas have combined to be very competitive and much less expensive than hydropower. Major customers are turning to these alternatives in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Even California, a longtime recipient of BPA supplemental power, is not renewing BPA contracts. ...

Competitive rates combined with increasing maintenance demands on an aging system and legal obligations for fish and wildlife recovery (which have been unsuccessful) have put the BPA $15 billion in debt. ...

The environmental community makes a very strong case for breaching the four lower Snake River dams:

Importantly, it would reduce barriers to salmon/steelhead migration into Idaho and aid in regional fish recovery.

Thomas Benson, Worley
Times Change
Lewiston Tribune, May 10, 2020

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