Statement on Governor’s Snake River Dam Report » Publications » Washington Policy Center

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The governor’s report on the Snake River dams ignores the scientific consensus on salmon and Snake River dams and puts politics ahead of real salmon recovery efforts. Destroying the dams would divert vital funds from more at-risk salmon runs, not help southern resident killer whales, and increase CO2 emissions. What the governor is proposing is a lose-lose-lose for the environment that puts politics before science.

First, the governor’s report is extremely sloppy. The original project cited research by Welch et al. that the dams were affecting the salmon runs in the Snake River. This study actually said the opposite, noting that Snake River salmon returns were better than many places without dams in the region. The governor’s revised report now acknowledges that error, but uses a political statement from the Biden administration to dismiss the peer-reviewed research. Clearly, the report authors were unfamiliar with current science and were simply looking for studies that agreed with their preferred finding.

Second, the more than $30 billion in taxes needed to destroy dams and mitigate energy and economic damage is equivalent to more than 300 years of funding Washington’s salmon salvage. Nowhere does the report even attempt to determine whether spending this amount of money on a salmon run is the best way to help endangered salmon in the Northwest. Spending this amount of money without a serious evaluation is irresponsible.

Finally, the report recognizes that destroying the dams would increase electricity costs, increase the risk of blackouts and increase CO2 emissions. These negative consequences would be detrimental to working families, small business owners and the environment.

Having worked to promote effective salmon recovery efforts for nearly two decades, it is frustrating to me to see the state back down by once again putting politics ahead of what is best for salmon and the environment. .

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