Reaction mixed to salmon study rejecting Snake River ‘status quo’

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, released the final edition of a study, Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Report, that concludes the status quo is not an option when it comes to whether or not to remove the four dams.

The study, released in late August, falls short of recommending they be removed. Instead, it says that while saving salmon and other species in the Columbia Basin is imperative, the loss of power and other impacts must be mitigated before breaching can begin. It lays that responsibility on the federal government, their owner and operator.

“The state and federal governments should implement a plan to replace the benefits of the Lower Snake River Dams to enable breaching to move forward,” they said in a joint recommendation.

Not surprisingly, reaction was mixed among those who favor removal to save salmon and those who object to loss of hydropower, navigation and other benefits of the Ice Harbor (dedicated 1962, 603MW). Lower Monumental (dedicated 1969, 810MW), Little Goose (dedicated 1970, 810MW) and Lower Granite (dedicated 1984, 810MW) dams.

Here is a sample of reactions:

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside: “Governor Inslee and Senator Murray are trying to have their cake and eat it too with their recommendation released (in August) calling for a plan to replace the benefits of the Lower Snake River Dams to enable breaching to move forward. This report outlines what Central Washington has known all along: there is no reasonable replacement for the Lower Snake River Dams.” Newhouse is running for reelection against Democrat Doug White in November.

Delano Saluskin, chair, Yakama Tribal Council: “Yakama Nation agrees with the report’s conclusions that a comprehensive and aggressive basin-wide approach to salmon recovery, and that Lower Snake River dam removal is a feasible option to aid the recovery of Snake River populations, which would in turn help remove restrictions on main-stem Columbia River Fisheries.”

Todd Myers, environmental director, Washington Policy Center and member, Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council: “The governor’s report on the Snake River dams ignores the consensus science on salmon and the Snake River dams, and puts politics before true salmon recovery efforts. Destroying the dams would divert funding from salmon runs at greater risk, would not help southern resident killer whales, and would increase CO2 emissions.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown: “Oregon, Washington, and a bipartisan group of leaders from across the Northwest all agree: Salmon and steelhead are central to the Columbia Basin’s ecosystem, economy, and way of life, and we must find a collaborative path forward to prevent their extinction while serving the interest of everyone in the region.”

Read the full report at bit.ly/LowerSnakeBenefitReport.

Read Inslee’s and Murray’s recommendations at bit.ly/SnakeBenefitRecommendations.

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