If we are to consider the future of hydroelectric power in our region, we first must look to the facts and science. As the threat of salmon extinction is critical to the conversation, we cannot overlook the Endangered Species Act and the federal requirement to ensure the recovery of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead runs.
Salmon are born in a river and they return to the river. Healthy river conditions are critical to their survival, as a NOAA report reaffirmed last fall. Scientists also agree that of all the factors, the four lower Snake River dams are the one factor that we can control; and the one factor that will have the greatest impact on salmon recovery.
As Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray clearly outlined in their report for replacing the services that the lower Snake River dams provide: Saving salmon and other iconic species in the Columbia Basin is imperative. The scientific review affirms that breaching these specific dams offers the greatest benefit to the salmon.
Our opportunity is multi-fold. The services the dams provide are replaceable. Salmon are not. Salmon are at the heart of our Northwest way of life and salmon recovery is central to environmental justice for the Northwest’s Indigenous communities.
The key to our future is forward-looking solutions that solve our problems rather than perpetuate them. We are grateful to the elected leaders who are leaning into sound science to move our region beyond the status quo.
National Wildlife Federation
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