Save Our wild Salmon: The Blog
Where we candidly and accurately react to and reflect on current affairs impacting wild salmon and salmon jobs. And of course, never missing the opportunity to point out that those obsolete dams on the Lower Snake River need to go. Bloggers include SOS staff, with occassional guest entries.
Recent Economic Analyses of the Lower Snake River Dams
Below are links to a series of five recent reports and analyses examining, and in some cases re-examining, the costs and benefits of the lower Snake River Dams.
Introduction: On May 4, the U.S. District Court in Portland invalidated the federal government’s new plan for protecting endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia/Snake rivers for the fifth time in a row since 2000. The Court was clear: the government’s proposed measures did not comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) nor the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Court is requiring federal agencies to produce a new Biological Opinion informed by a full NEPA process: information development and analysis, full consideration of all recovery options including lower Snake River dam removal, and public participation and input. This memo summarizes a number of reports completed in the last several years by different Northwest experts that reflect the dramatically changing economic landscape inhabited by the four federal dams on the lower Snake River. These reports do not purport to offer the final word on these dams’ ledger, but rather provide a substantive, informed insight into their likely costs and benefits today.
I. Lower Snake River Dam Navigation Study
Rocky Mountain Econometrics. September 2015.
• Rail’s flexibility to go to alternate destinations, the lower Snake River navigation channel’s lack of reliability, and shipping benefits dropping from $19.4 million per year to about $7.6 million have all contributed to reduced demand for commercial navigation, an expanding rail network and increased use of rail.
• The cost of maintaining the four lower Snake River dams and mitigating their impacts has risen significantly. It is now approximately $227 million per year representing an annual increase of roughly 4.5 percent in recent years.
• Maintaining the lower Snake River navigation now costs around $18 million per year.
• The Benefit-to-Cost Ratio of navigation on the Snake is now at a shutdown level of .43:1, and this figure excludes the cost of mitigating the lower Snake River dam’s adverse fish and wildlife impacts.
• The $7.6 million benefit of lower Snake commercial navigation is now dwarfed by the $24+ million it costs to maintain and mitigate the channel.
II. Restoring wild salmon: Power system costs and benefits of lower Snake River dam removal. NW Energy Coalition. August 2015.
• The costs to maintain the four lower Snake River dams and associated infrastructure are far greater than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2002 estimate of $56 million per year. A more realistic estimate is nearly five times as great - $269 million annually.
• The costs (net of avoided expenses for maintaining those dams) of replacing the power from the lower Snake River dams with a mix of utility-scale solar and market electricity purchases would be nearly imperceptible to the average public power consumer – close to $1 per month.
• This does not investigate the economics of navigation, flood control, irrigation, fisheries, or the outdoor industry nor the costs of physical dam removal.
III. Lower Snake River Dam Alternative Power Costs.
Rocky Mountain Econometrics. June 2015.
• The lower Snake River Dams (LSRD) account for less than 3 percent of the total system-wide energy generation. The system is currently running at about 84% of capacity with approximately 4,600 aMWs of surplus energy. If these dams were decommissioned today and their energy not replaced with alternatives, capacity utilization would increase slightly – to roughly 86.5%.
• Jim Waddell, recently retired Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) engineer, calculates that it will cost $312.9 million annually to maintain these four dams, 90 percent of which, $281.6 million, is attributable to power generation.
• The simplest way to replace the lower Snake River dam power would be through purchase on the open market. If this had been done from 2009 through 2014, ratepayers would have experienced a net annual savings of about $19 million.
• If utility scale photovoltaic energy were developed and used in combination with market purchased energy to replace the power from the lower Snake River dams, Northwest ratepayers could expect to enjoy an annual savings of $21.7 million.
IV. National and Regional Economic Analysis of the Four Lower Snake River Dams: A review of the 2002 Lower Snake Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement Economic Appendix (I)
Earth Economics. February 2015
• The current state of the four Lower Snake River dams yield a yearly benefit-cost ration of 0.15, well below a positive return on investment.
• A free-flowing river yields a yearly benefit-cost ratio of 4.3 in terms of National Economic Development (NED). These benefits are not realized with the current state of the river.
• With the possible exception of navigation and irrigation water supply, the current benefits would not be lost, but rather increased, if the dams were breached.
• Wild salmon are keystone species in trophic webs from the North Pacific Ocean to the far reaches of the Lower Snake River and tributaries. They are important for food provision, cultural value, and for sustaining other key species throughout the Pacific Northwest.
V. The Costs of Keeping the Four Lower Snake River Dams: A Reevaluation of the Lower Snake River Feasibility Report
James Waddell and Linwood Laughy. January 2015.
• A professional reevaluation of the 2002 report—correcting earlier cost projections with now available actual costs and addressing omissions, errors, miscalculations and faulty assumptions—demonstrates the Walla Walla District understated the true cost of keeping the dams in place by a staggering $160.7 million on an average annual basis.
• The reevaluation corrects the assumptions and cost estimates used in the Lower Snake River Juvenile Salmon Migration Feasibility Report (LSRFR) and confirms the estimates based on actual cost over the past 15 years. It then projects the costs over the entire life-span of the project.
• If the ACOE’s Walla Walla District had conducted a thorough, honest economic analysis in its 2002 LSRFR, the four lower Snake River Dams would likely have been removed by now.
Seattle Times Judge: Salmon recovery requires big dam changes
By Lynda V. Mapes
May 4, 2016
For the fifth time, a federal judge has called for an overhaul of Columbia and Snake River dam operations to preserve salmon and steelhead. In his ruling, he urged renewed consideration of Lower Snake River dam removal.
A federal judge has called for a new approach to Columbia and Snake River dam operations to preserve salmon and steelhead, with all options on the table for consideration, including dam removal on the Lower Snake River.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon in Oregon on Wednesday invalidated the U.S. government’s 2014 Columbia Basin biological opinion, under which federal agencies operate the Columbia River hydropower system. It’s the fifth time a biological opinion written by the agencies permitting operation of the dams has been struck down by the courts.
In his sweeping, 149-page ruling, Simon sounded about out of patience, quoting rulings over two decades by his predecessors denouncing a system that “cries out for a major overhaul,” and urging consideration of breaching one or more of the four dams on the Lower Snake River. “For more than 20 years, however, the federal agencies have ignored the admonishments and continued to focus essentially on the same approach,” Simon wrote. “ … these efforts have already cost billions of dollars, yet they are failing. Many populations of the listed species continue to be in a perilous state.”
Seattle Times: Lean year for coho means big worries for Westport salmon charters
Low coho runs could mean more economic hardship for already hard-hit Westport and its charter boats.
By Erik Lacitis, April 11, 2016
WESTPORT — As pretty much always, it’s windy and cold on this day by the ocean.
A few tourists poke around the main drag in town, maybe stop in a gift shop and buy caramels. It’s the slow time of the year, with just a couple of boats taking customers out for bottom fishing.
In his office at Deep Sea Charters, Larry Giese, one of the two big local fishing-boat operators, talks about its being a nervous time in this little town of 2,100.
The salmon season could be an unmitigated disaster. Coho — one of five salmon species that migrate out to sea and then return to the state — are in big trouble; the Columbia River hatchery coho are expected to return in half the numbers of last year.
State and tribal fish managers are expected this week to decide whether to cut way back on the commercial and recreational salmon fishery in Washington’s ocean waters — or call it off completely.
“We’re fishermen. We’re not hedge-fund managers and bankers and Internet gurus. We’re fishermen,” says Giese, a member of the state’s sport-fishing advisory board. “We’re already operating on a shoestring of what we used to have.”
An Evening on the Elwha
Town Hall of Seattle
Thursday, May 12, 2016
In 2013, after a successful campaign by the Lower Elwha K'lallam Tribe and local conservationists, the nation’s largest dam removal project was completed on Washington’s Elwha River. More than two years have passed and this newly-restored watershed that links Olympic National Park with the salt waters of the Salish Sea is in the midst of a fascinating and unprecedented transformation. “An Evening on the Elwha” will present a series of rapid-fire presentations by renowned experts from the field who will describe how this rich ecological system is coming back to life before our eyes. Presentations will cover salmon recovery, otters, sediment migration, estuary and coastal restoration, reservoir revegetation, a trip down the re-wilded river, and much more.
Program: 6:30-8:30 (doors open at 5:30)
Tickets: $10 general / $5 senior/student/limited income. Tickets can be purchased here.
Lynda Mapes, author and environmental reporter for the Seattle Times, will emcee the evening program
1. Frances Charles, Lower Elwha K’lallam Tribal Chairwoman
2. George Pess, NOAA-Fisheries Program Manager and Research Fisheries Biologist
3. Ian Miller, Coastal Hazards Specialist for Washington Sea Grant
4. Kim Sager-Fradkin, Lower K’lallam Tribal Wildlife Program Manager
5. Sarah Morley, NOAA-Fisheries Research Ecologist
6. Shawn Cantrell, Regional Director for Defenders of Wildlife
7. Joshua Chenoweth, Olympic National Park Restoration Botanist
8. Jonathan A. Warrick, U.S. Geological Survey Research Geologist
9. David Spiegel, Outdoor Adventurer/Writer/Photographer, Elwha River 2015 Source to Sea expedition
This event is presented by:
Defenders of Wildlife
National Park Conservation Association
Save Our wild Salmon Coalition
Student Conservation AssociationOlympic Park AssociatesThe MountaineersMountaineers Books
14th Annual Rose' Revival & Cool Whites -
A benefit for Save Our wild Salmon
Doors open at 6 pm - $35 tickets
Special "Early Entry" at 5 pm - $45 ticket
Event ends at 9 pm.
Proceeds from this event benefit the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition.
What could be more relaxing than sipping tasty rose' and white wines on the beautiful deck of at Ray's Boathouse watching the sun set over the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound?
Be part of this Seattle tradition by joining us at the 14th Annual Rose' Revival and Cool Whites Wine Event on Thursday, May 26th from 6-9pm!
This event features a wide array of dry Washington Rose' and interesting white wines - NO reds! Attendees will meet a variety of Northwest winemakers and taste their rosé made in very small lots from Sangiovese, Syrah, Cab Franc, Tempranillo, Grenache, Pinot Noir! The event will also feature a wide array of delicious whites for summer, including varietals such as Semillon, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Albarino, Gruner, & Pinot Blanc!
Ray's will provide tasty treats to accompany.
Proceeds from this event go to support Save Our Wild Salmon, a Northwest-based coalition of conservation organizations, river groups, fishing associations, businesses, working to protect and restore abundant, fishable populations of wild salmon and steelhead by protecting and restoring their rivers and watersheds.
For more information: http://www.wildsalmon.org
This year's Rose Revival and Cool Whites will featuring the following local wineries (so far):
- Jan 04, 2016 - CBB: Songbird Study Shows River Ecosystem Recovery After Dam Removal, Return Of Salmon Nutrients
- Dec 18, 2015 - 2015 SOS donor gifts and opportunities
- Dec 15, 2015 - New York Times: Finding Refuge for Salmon, Cold Water Preferred
- Nov 25, 2015 - Happy Thanksgiving 2015!
- Nov 19, 2015 - Save Our wild Salmon - Our 2015 Year-end Review!
- Nov 03, 2015 - Salmon and fishing advocates: Speak up for fish and wildlife!
- Sep 16, 2015 - Intertwined Fates: The Orca-Salmon Connection in the Northwest
- Sep 09, 2015 - A Tribute to Zeke Grader - 9.7.2015
- Jun 30, 2015 - Free The Snake: Patagonia’s new short film highlights lower Snake dam removal
- Jun 09, 2015 - Idaho Statesman: Salmon swim in the Owyhee River (Nevada!) after 87 years
- May 01, 2015 - 13th Annual Rose' Revival Benefit Event - June 18 in Seattle
- Apr 22, 2015 - Patagonia Ad: Don't Hold Back
- Feb 18, 2015 - Outside: What Happens When You Demolish Two 100-Year-Old Dams
- Nov 26, 2014 - Happy Thanksgiving 2014!
- Oct 13, 2014 - CBB: Dam Removal Study Suggests Rivers Return To Natural Conditions Surprisingly Fast
- Sep 23, 2014 - Snake River Sockeye Make Most Endangered List: New Report Highlights Ten American Species Our Children May Never See
- Sep 15, 2014 - Seattle P-I: Chinook salmon returning to reservoir sites on Elwha River
- Sep 02, 2014 - Associated Press: Orca population in Puget Sound falling
- Aug 26, 2014 - New York Times: Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost
- Aug 26, 2014 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Dworkshak Unit Out
- Aug 20, 2014 - Al Jazeera: Elder’s devotion to ugly fish lives on after his tragic death
- Aug 19, 2014 - Energy & Environment Publishing: EPA finalizes agreement setting 'buffer zones' around salmon streams
- Aug 19, 2014 - Energy & Environment Publishing: Hastings blasts leaking dams settlement
- Aug 08, 2014 - KPLU: New Life After Dam Removal: Surf Smelt Spawning In Mouth Of Elwha
- Aug 05, 2014 - Associated Press: Army Corps of Engineers will monitor, disclose dam pollution
- Jul 31, 2014 - Nature Science Journal: Dam removals: Rivers on the run
- Jul 21, 2014 - Associated Press: EPA To Protect Salmon Fishery By Blocking Massive Alaska Mine
- Jul 10, 2014 - As dams fall, Elwha River makes stunning recovery
- May 09, 2014 - Remembering a legend: Billy Frank, Jr.
- May 06, 2014 - Statement on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.
- Mar 20, 2014 - Northwest News: Fish Experts Plan A Salmon Water Slide On Cracked Wanapum Dam
- Mar 19, 2014 - Wenatchee World: Wanapum Dam spillway crack, showing algae, likely not new
- Mar 02, 2014 - New York Times: A Reprieve for Bristol Bay
- Feb 01, 2014 - Join SOS and Idaho River Adventures this July for a wild trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River!
- Jan 23, 2014 - Update: a not-so-new Federal Plan for Columbia/Snake salmon and steelhead
- Jan 03, 2014 - New York Times Blog: The Law That Save the Bald Eagle
- Dec 29, 2013 - Is the Northwest regaining lost ground?
- Dec 05, 2013 - An enhanced spill experiment – costs and carbon impacts are modest and manageable.
- Nov 20, 2013 - Seattle Times: Elwha River sees largest run of Chinook in decades
- Oct 23, 2013 - B.C. Releases Draft Columbia River Treaty Recommendations
- Oct 01, 2013 - Action Alert - Salmon Need
- Sep 25, 2013 - LA Times: Big chinook run doesn't let Columbia dams off the hook, activists say
- Sep 12, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Feds deal blow to Nez Perce Tribe, salmon advocates
- Sep 05, 2013 - SOS and Idaho River Adventures on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River
- Aug 31, 2013 - Announcing a leadership transition for SOS
- Aug 15, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon submits comments on the Columbia River Treaty
- Jul 15, 2013 - Save the law that protects America's natural capital.
- Jul 15, 2013 - Seattle Times: Lamprey Eel - bringing back an ancient species
- Jun 07, 2013 - High Country News Book Review: Elwha, a story of today's West
- May 13, 2013 - All Scientists Are Saying Is…"Give (More) Spill A Chance."
- Apr 10, 2013 - Chicago Tribune: Interior Department recommends removal of Klamath River dams to aid salmon
- Mar 05, 2013 - Farewell to Fenton Roskelley - outdoor writer, sportsman, and conservationist
- Jan 30, 2013 - Change on the Fly
- Jan 17, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon Coalition welcomes new BPA administrator Bill Drummond
- Jan 11, 2013 - In Gratitude
- Jan 08, 2013 - Thank you for a successful End-of-2012 Fund Drive!
- Dec 04, 2012 - Confusing sockeye hatcheries with sockeye recovery
- Nov 07, 2012 - NOAA, We Have a Problem
- Oct 25, 2012 - Thank you for 13 excellent years
- Oct 22, 2012 - Looking to the Future: New report challenges the Northwest’s aging dam infrastructure
- Oct 08, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon athletes exceed their goal.
- Oct 04, 2012 - Senator Wyden Supports New Approach to Salmon Restoration
- Oct 01, 2012 - Feds Maintain Status Quo as Salmon Numbers Struggle
- Sep 27, 2012 - Author attempts world record run for salmon
- Sep 25, 2012 - “I’m Pro-Salmon, and I Vote”
- Sep 21, 2012 - A Baker's Dozen
- Sep 18, 2012 - Salmon, Coal, and the Columbia River’s Future
- Sep 14, 2012 - The salmon aren’t celebrating Bonneville’s 75th
- Sep 07, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Meet the Runners
- Aug 30, 2012 - Boil On Columbia
- Aug 28, 2012 - 2012 Salmon and Steelhead Returns Still Poor
- Aug 14, 2012 - The Worst Dam Bill Ever
- Aug 06, 2012 - The Most Interesting Fish in the World
- Aug 03, 2012 - In Virginia: Dam Removal Helping Eels
- Aug 01, 2012 - Outdoor Retailer is here!
- Jul 25, 2012 - Outdoor Idaho Focuses on Idaho's Salmon
- Jul 23, 2012 - Run Wild for Salmon - Portland Marathon 2012
- Jul 19, 2012 - If you un-build it, the fish will come
- Jul 16, 2012 - Rivers Gone Wild! - Patagonia-style...
- Jul 13, 2012 - Roll On Columbia Roll On
- Jun 29, 2012 - Sockeye Numbers at Bonneville Dam are Encouraging
- Jun 28, 2012 - Saving Salmon to Save Orcas
- Jun 25, 2012 - Maine's Great Works and the Columbia-Snake Opportunity
- Jun 21, 2012 - Lamprey Summit Sets a Good Example
- Jun 20, 2012 - Victory: Highway to Hell Defeated
- May 21, 2012 - Book a river trip and help support SOS
- May 18, 2012 - TAKE ACTION: Visualize your support for salmon!
- May 15, 2012 - Solutions for one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers
- May 11, 2012 - Spill, Judge Redden, and the Need for a New Process
- May 03, 2012 - Mother's wants a seat at the table
- Apr 26, 2012 - Judge Redden Supports Dam Removal
- Mar 24, 2012 - Men's Journal Features LSR Dam Removal
- Mar 07, 2012 - Court-Ordered Spill Helps Salmon Returns and Jobs
- Feb 22, 2012 - HB 4101: Serious Issue, Bad Bill
- Feb 21, 2012 - Paul Fish: Salmon Super Hero
- Feb 15, 2012 - Showing NOAA Some Love for Valentine’s Day
- Feb 07, 2012 - Toxic Oil Spill on the Lower Snake; What Next?
- Feb 01, 2012 - Sea Change for Port of Lewiston?
- Jan 25, 2012 - Mascot Love at Outdoor Retailer
- Jan 19, 2012 - Osprey Packs to host Buster, Ice-P, Bigfoot, and Timmy O'Neil at Outdoor Retailer
- Jan 12, 2012 - Outside Sees Momentum for Dam Removal in 2012
- Jan 10, 2012 - Patagonia’s Salmon Super Heroes
- Jan 06, 2012 - Salmon…and bikinis?