Remove of four Snake River dams best for salmon, orcas, us

I was dismayed to read Todd Myers’ misleading guest commentary (“Costly dam removal won’t fix Puget Sound salmon needs,” The Herald, Nov. 21)

First, the four Lower Snake River dams’ harmful effects on salmon are clear. Up to 75 percent of young Snake River salmon are killed before they reach the Pacific Ocean. The once cool, swift Snake River is now 140 miles of slack-water pools that heat up in the summer. Scientists are clear: If we leave the dams in place, we lose the fish.

Second, our critically endangered Southern Resident orcas number just 73. Distinguished orca scientists like Dr. Deborah Giles and Ken Balcomb are clear that the single most important thing we can do to recover our precious orcas is to breach these dams.

Third, our region has abundant hydropower from the other 27 dams in the Columbia Basin, plus wind and solar. Federal agencies predicted in their 2020 study that breaching the four Lower Snake dams would actually lower electrical rates. They aren’t efficient energy producers when demand is higher in summer and winter.

Finally, the tribes are united in their calls to breach the four lower Snake River dams to honor treaty rights and native cultures.

Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has a comprehensive plan to breach these dams, and provide mitigation to those effected. His plan estimates the costs of physical breaching to be about $1 billion, nothing like the enormous sum Mr. Myers claims.

Breaching the four Lower Snake dams gives the biggest bang for the taxpayer buck in salmon and orca recovery.

Lanni Johnson


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