Snake River dams and salmon: Not all dams are worth keeping

A recent letter to the editor from the IBEW electrical union backs keeping Snake River dams and referenced “efforts of anti-hydropower groups.” I believe this is a misrepresentation of groups that in reality are looking for the most equitable energy future. In some cases hydro is the better option, but where dams severely disrupt equity and ecology other renewable energy sources may be a better choice. The lower Snake River dams, producing about 4 percentof the Northwest’s power, have brought native salmon runs that once were half of all salmon entering the Columbia River to the verge of extinction. This unequitable scenario has affected fisheries throughout the Northwest and once again fails to honor treaties with our tribal neighbors. Treaties that since their 1855 inception Tribes have constantly needed to pressure our adherence.

The letter further states Washington’s electricity demand may double by 2050. If this becomes the case and the Snake River dams were replaced, instead of increasing power generation by 100 percent, it would need to increase by 104 percent. Northwest Energy Coalition, a non-profit with expertise and mission to advance clean energy planning for our region concludes in its analysis “Smart Planning Will Drive Replacing the Power from the Lower Snake River Dams” that this 4 percent can be economically and equitably replaced.

Demanding that the “status quo” on the lower Snake River dams is the only plausible option disregards current efforts developing solutions that address all communities, disregards our Tribal neighbors, and gives up on salmon. We can do much, much better.

Lianne Shea


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