News Articles

Important articles published by national and regional news outlets related to wild salmon restoration in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.


Friday, June 15 2018BPA Logo 2015

The Columbia River basin fish and wildlife budget funded by the Bonneville Power Administration will likely see as much as a 10 percent cut in fiscal year 2019, according to Bryan Mercier, executive director of BPA’s fish and wildlife division.
 
Mercier broke the news to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council at its meeting in Portland June 12, saying that the agency is seeking to reduce the slightly more than $300 million budget, which includes both capital and direct expenses, by $30 million next fiscal year.
 
Bonneville funds regional fish and wildlife projects associated with the four-state Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife program. For more information about the Council, its regional fish and wildlife program and program projects go to https://www.nwcouncil.org/fish-and-wildlife.
 
In a June 5 Council memorandum, Tony Grover, the Council’s fish and wildlife director, said that the fiscal year Start of Year (SOY) budget planning process “is an important milestone every year because it sets expectations regarding Bonneville funding for projects and contracts that will be developed in the upcoming fiscal year.”
 
He went on to say that Bonneville is approaching this process differently than it has in the past “to accommodate the fiscal uncertainty that it faces and to ensure the Fish and Wildlife Program has sustainable funding levels.”
 
See the memorandum at https://www.nwcouncil.org/sites/default/files/2018_0612_4.pdf
 
BPA Administrator, Elliot Mainzer, introducing Mercier as well as Lorri Bodi, BPA vice president of environment, fish and wildlife, said the agency is making an effort to keep programmatic costs at or below the rate of inflation over the next ten years.
 
“If we meet our public responsibilities, we need to do so as a commercial business,” Mainzer said, while still doing the “valuable, important and moral work on fish and wildlife. It’s important to me to sustain the good work.”
 
Bodi, who is retiring soon, said that the Council and BPA have actually been finding cost savings and has operated the fish and wildlife program at below the rate of inflation for the past eight years.
 
“We will shrink the amount we spend on research, monitoring and evaluation and put more money in on-the-ground programs,” she said of BPA expenditures on fish and wildlife programs this coming year. “We’re looking for more bang for the buck.”
 
Mercier reiterated that BPA’s strategic direction includes strengthening the agency’s financial health and maintaining costs at or below inflation.  He also said that for fish and wildlife there are areas of uncertainty, pointing out a proposed $10 million surcharge on court-ordered spill to total dissolved gas limits (Bonneville initially estimated the cost of the additional spill to be $40 million), the 2018 NOAA biological opinion for salmon and steelhead and its proposed actions and costs, and changes to the 2008 Columbia Basin Fish Accords https://www.salmonrecovery.gov/Partners/FishAccords.aspx.
 
Indeed, capital and direct expenses for the fish and wildlife program climbed from about $150 million in 2000 to more than $310 million in 2012 and has been dropping since then to about $260 million in 2017, the last year of actual expenses. However, the projection for FY2018 is for capital and direct expenses to hit $325 million.
 
The full cost of the program is much more and includes such items as $5 million for Council expenses in FY2016-2017, $27 million for the Lower Snake Compensation Plan paid to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $48 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, $7 million to the Bureau of Reclamation, $58 million for foregone revenue and power purchases caused by fish and wildlife operations and $135 million for depreciation and interest. The total cost for the complete package in FY2016-2017 was $535 million.
 
Before reductions, the final cost is expected to rise to $698 million in FY2018-2019. That includes $6 million for the Council, $34 million to the Service, $50 million to the Corps, $7 million to BOR, $195 million for lost revenue and power purchases and $129 million for depreciation and interest.
 
As it reviews programs for FY2019, Mercier said BPA will strive to improve program implementation performance and seek better biological effectiveness. It will eliminate redundancy, prioritize on-the-ground work and encourage cost-sharing with other entities (“attract other sources of capital” to programs, Mercier said).
 
One area that will see cuts is RM&E, Bodi said. “We’re looking for research that contributes to management decisions. We at Bonneville don’t need information good enough for scientific publication: we need info for operating.” She added that there’s a “good deal of duplication” in RM&E.
 
Some $8 million of reductions will occur in what BPA is calling Partner Portfolios, such as with tribes, states, soil and water conservation districts and watershed councils. Another $18 million will come from programs and $4 million will come out of BPA’s overhead and internal costs, according to Mercier.
 
The preliminary budget rollout is this week, Mercier said, and contract negotiations with quarter 1 contracts (those that begin at the beginning of the fiscal year) also begin this week. Negotiations will be unique and iterative with each partner, he said. Those contracts will be issued mid-July. Quarter 2 contract negotiations follow, beginning in mid- to late-August. BPA and the Council will consult throughout the timeline.

http://www.cbbulletin.com/440947.aspx

 Friday, June 08, 2018  Lower Granite Spill

As the snow melt-off progresses and nears an end in some areas, river flows in the Snake and Columbia rivers are declining and so is involuntary spill at eight dams on the rivers that in May forced total dissolved gas levels higher than Washington and Oregon clean water standards allow.
 
Lower flow at most dams is allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin to return to court-ordered spring spill up to state mandated total dissolved gas levels, known as gas caps – 120 percent TDG in tailraces and 115 percent TDG in the downstream dam’s forebay.
 
Higher than normal flows, spill and TDG that impacted the spill cap operations in May are returning to lower levels, according to Dan Turner of the Corps’ River Control Center, speaking at the interagency Technical Management Team meeting Wednesday, June 6.
 
Even with falling stream flows (flow at Lower Granite Dam on the Lower Snake River is 110,000 cubic feet, 10 percent below the 30-year forecast), the water supply outlook through early summer is looking good with forecasts at all major dams higher than the 30-year average.
 
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled April 2 in favor of an April 2017 U.S. District Court injunction allowing more spring spill at four lower Snake and four lower Columbia river dams. With the decision, spill to the gas cap began April 3 at lower Snake River dams and at lower Columbia River dams April 10. The additional spill through June 15 is designed to aid migrating juvenile salmon and steelhead.
 
With lower stream flows at Snake River dams, the Corps is again managing to spill targets. It has now hit that target at Lower Granite Dam (31,000 cubic feet per second) since June 3 and has kept TDG levels at or slightly under gas cap levels since June 1. TDG in Lower Granite’s tailwater reached 126 percent May 26 and 27. The Little Goose Forebay hit 120 percent May 28 and 29.
 
Flow on June 3 at Lower Granite was 110 kcfs, but had been over 200 kcfs at one point in May. It is forecasted to drop precipitously by July 1 to under 60 kcfs, according to Turner.
 
The Little Goose spill target is 26 kcfs, which the Corps nearly hit June 5 and 6 when TDG levels fell within gas-cap levels. TDG in the tailwater hit 127 percent May 27 when the river was spilling 81 kcfs. The downstream forebay at Lower Monumental Dam hit 127 percent the next day.
 
“LoMo is in transition,” Turner said, noting that the Lower Monumental Dam spill target has yet to be hit, but TDG levels were within the gas cap June 6. Tailwater TDG a LoMo hit 128 percent May 23 and the downstream forebay at Ice Harbor Dam hit 123 percent May 28 and 29.
 
Ice Harbor Dam, the lower dam on the Snake River, has for the most part met its spill target of 80 kcfs since June 3, but the forebay at the next downstream dam, McNary, on the Columbia River continues to exceed the 115 percent TDG cap. TDG at Ice Harbor’s tailwater hit 130 percent May 27 and the forebay at McNary hit 125 percent May 23 and 24.
 
Flow at The Dalles Dam on June 3 was about 350 kcfs. At one point in May, flow exceeded 500 kcfs. The forecast is for a flow level of about 225 kcfs by July 1.
 
Although flows are also dropping in the Columbia River, involuntary spill is continuing and TDG at all four lower Columbia River dams – McNary, John Day, The Dalles and Bonneville dams – continue to exceed water quality standards set by the states.
 
Water supply forecasts remain high with an April – August forecast at The Dalles Dam of 105,908,000 acre feet, which is 121 percent of the 30-year average (1981 – 2010).

http://www.cbbulletin.com/440889.aspx

Wil WIlkinsBy LAURA ZUCKERMAN

news@postregister.com

SALMON — A roadside display of signs and structures underscoring the plight of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin tie together the two passions of Wil Wilkins: art and fly-fishing.

The billboards and sculptures Wilkins erected this year on his property north of Salmon spell out — literally and symbolically — his fervent wish to see the removal of dams that challenge migrating salmon and steelhead.

Wilkins, a blacksmith whose metal designs have shaped lighting and other architectural elements on upscale homes, lodges and resorts in the U.S. West, said he felt compelled to objectify his concerns after decades of being hooked on fishing.

“For a number of years, I’ve been extracting without giving back,” he said. “Then I spoke to a biologist, who encouraged me to educate myself on the issues threatening the fish.”

Wilkins’ protest is directed at the four dams on the lower Snake River in Washington state that are used to generate power and for navigation. Competing interests, including salmon advocates, power companies and farmers, are locked in an ongoing and historic debate about the value of the dams. For Wilkins, the question is settled, giving rise to his artistic and political demonstration.

“I’m doing what I can to help raise awareness and the best way to do that is through art,” Wilkins said.

To do so, he employs words and images to spark interest and discussion. A large sign decorated with an outsized steel fish in high relief argues for removal of the dams and exhorts viewers to “Save our wild steelhead & salmon” while supplying website addresses for advocacy groups.

His most provocative piece is a decommissioned power pole crossed by a bleeding fish in a vertical structure that appears to elicit the gestures of cutout figures of a man and a girl.

It is the girl that most concerns Wilkins. The child is representative of coming generations and the figure was placed in the sculpture because Wilkins worries about the fishes’ fate and whether, in coming years, he will be able to share the joy of fishing for them with his granddaughter, now a toddler.

“We need to save these fish for future generations,” he said. He predicted greater peril for the fish if those who love them fail to fight for their survival.

Wilkins knows his display may trigger opposition in some quarters but that is unlikely to stop him. No one has openly objected to the project on his property but Wilkins is aware not all who see the display are going to agree with his sentiments. The only negative reaction was relayed anecdotally and involved the comment that the signs and structures were “inappropriate,” Wilkins said.

The artist welcomes the role of agitator for a cause he considers crucial — and he is not alone. Steven Hatcher, folk and traditional arts director for Idaho Commission on the Arts, said there is a long history of artists making waves in the United States for political, social and economic reasons. Examples range from Latin American wall murals in Los Angeles to the songs about social justice by Woody Guthrie, he said.

From Hatcher’s vantage point, the power of folk art is its subtlety, creating folk life, which he describes as the art of the everyday performed by everyday people practicing their traditions.

“A community performs something over and over again because it contains value and meaning,” he said.

“The outward expression of value and meaning indicates a deep engagement with a subject. Deep engagement with a subject contributes, for better or for worse, to the beautiful dynamic of the human condition,” Hatcher added.

Meantime, Wilkins is on a mission. Ultimately, he intends to expand the number of his fish-related artworks, fronting his property with a sculpture garden that just happens to double as a call to ecological care.

“It’s about art making a statement,” he said.

By Terry Otto, Columbian staff writerSealion
Published: May 16, 2018, 9:22 PM


The United States Congress is currently considering legislation that could affect the management of fisheries in the Northwest and directly impact local fishing.

 

One of the bills being considered addresses the issue of sea lion predation on endangered stocks of salmo

n and steelhead. Another would effectively reverse a recent judge’s decision to increase spill at Columbia River and Snake River dams to improve downstream migration.


There are also two bills that would amend the Magnuson-Stevens act, which regulates ocean fisheries.

H.R. 2083

Sponsored by U.S. Congresswomen Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, or H.R. 2083, would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

It would authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to issue one-year permits allowing Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and a broad coalition of tribal entities to kill sea lions in a portion of the Columbia River or certain tributaries in order to protect fish from sea lion predation.

Sea lions in the Columbia River and its tributaries consume thousands of salmon and steelhead every year. This bill specifically targets those marine mammals that set up at “pinch points” where the salmon funnel through tight areas, such as fish ladders.

Heath Heikkila of the Coastal Conservation Association thinks the marine mammal problems need to be addressed, and soon.

“We badly need a solution to the predation by sea lions,” he said. “They have tried hazing and moving the animals, but it hasn’t worked.”

Herrera Beutler proposed the legislation after hearing the concerns and frustrations of many of her constituents. She said that she understands the importance of salmon to our region and worries about the damage sea lions can cause.

“There is a 90-percent chance of Willamette steelhead going extinct (because of sea lions)” she said. “Forty-five percent of our spring Chinook disappear between the mouth of the Columbia and Bonneville Dam.”

She is aware that critics of the bill denounce the killing of sea lions.

“This is not an anti-sea lion bill,” Herrera Beutler said. “It’s a balanced approach that protects our salmon. It has the support of fish
and wildlife managers, as well as the tribes, and the governors of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.”

The bill currently is awaiting a floor vote in the house, and its future in the Senate is as yet unknown. However, Herrera Beutler is hopeful.

“This is the best chance we have had yet,” she said. “But it’s not a sure thing.”

H.R. 3144

H.R. 3144 is to “provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System pursuant to a certain operation plan for a specified period of time, and for other purposes.”

This bill, sponsored by U.S. Congresswomen Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R- Spokane, would effectively reverse the recent decision by U.S. District Judge Michael Simon that ordered more springtime spill over dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

H.R. 3144 would order the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration to adhere to the 2014 Obama-era plan for operation of the dams, which pre-dates the judge’s order.
Advocates say spill allows juvenile salmon to safely pass over dams, rather than sending them through the structures, which kill a percentage of the juvenile salmon as they head to sea.

Spilling water instead of running it through the generators reduces the money earned from the dams. Also, some advocates of the bill say dissolved gasses caused by spill pose a risk to juvenile fish.

Congresswoman Herrera Buetler supports the bill. She said the 2014 salmon plan is a “comprehensive plan”

 that was designed by scientists of federal agencies during the Obama Administration.

She said the legislation is not about blocking spill.

“It’s not an issue of whether or not to spill, it’s about the best way to do it,” she said. “This is about how to mitigate the effects of the dams in the best possible way.”

“We don’t want to breach the dams and wreck the economy,” she adds.


Liz Hamilton, the executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association minces no words when she condemns this bill.

“This bill stinks,” said Hamilton. “The judges decision allows spill up to the gas cap, and it is the number one thing they can do to restore salmon populations”

The gas cap is the limit on dissolved gasses in the river.

Hamilton and the NSIA have been actively involved in the legal wrangling over operation of hydro dams in t

he Columbia Basin. The dams are already ordered to spill during the summer months when fall salmon are migrating out to sea, but the new ruling means the power agencies will now have to spill water in the spring as well.

Spill has been widely lauded for increasing returning adult fall salmon in the Columbia River.

Long-time fishing guide Jack Glass of Team Hook-Up Guide Service has fished the Columbia and its t

ributaries for decades. He is pleased with the results of the summer time spill.

“I’m very much in favor of the spill, and we need to maintain that,” he said. “Given the poor ocean conditions we had, if we had not had that spill we would not have any fish coming back this fall at all.”

The bill has passed the House and awaits action by the Senate.

H.R. 2023, H.R. 200

These two bills are designed to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which was passed in 1976, and reauthorized as recently as 2006. The act provides a structure for ocean fisheries but was designed for commercial fishing. The new bills give state managers more flexibility when setting recreational ocean fishing seasons.

Sport anglers have often criticized the act because its structure does not lend itself well to recreational anglers.

The bills also allow for a number of exemptions that foes say can be used by state fishery managers to get around annual catch limits set by federal fish managers for ocean fish stocks.
These bills get mixed reviews from sport anglers. Most believe the Magnuson-Stevens act needs to be revised to reflect the rise in
popularity of recreational ocean angling, but many are not happy with the provisions concerning annual catch limits.

Bob Rees, an Oregon fishing guide and director of the Northwest Steelheaders, worries about possible reductions in ocean fish stocks if the bill becomes law.

“It is a Gulf Coast initiative, bit it is changing federal law,” he warns. “Many of our ocean species could be affected, including
groundfish.”

The Magnuson-Stevens act is credited with recovering 40 overfished populations since 2000, including populations of lingcod along the West Coast
.

LewistonWaterfront

By ERIC BARKER of the Tribune

Lewiston is bordered by two powerful and productive rivers, and water has played a pivotal role in its development.

But that fact could be lost on visitors as they stroll along Main Street. Gazing west or north, they may see people walking, biking and jogging on elevated pathways, but they won't see the flowing waters of the Snake or Clearwater rivers.

"Lewiston is a city on the river, but to me it doesn't feel like it's on the river," said Blake Brooks, a landscape architecture student at Washington State University. "You can be 50 feet from the river standing in downtown with this monolithic levee, and the water is so slow you can't hear it, you can't see it. It's a really interesting disconnect in my opinion."

Brooks is one of 10 WSU architecture students tasked with reinventing Lewiston's waterfront for a class centered on the four lower Snake River dams, efforts to recover salmon and steelhead, and how that might affect the city.

The levees arrived in the mid-1970s with the completion of Lower Granite Dam, which brought slackwater to Lewiston. The dams made the town into a seaport and increased the amount of hydroelectric power generated in the region. But they also hammered native salmon and steelhead runs, many of which are now protected under the Endangered Species Act.

For more than 20 years, the region has been embroiled in a debate about the dams and how best to save the fish. The federal government is in the midst of a multi-year study looking for the best way to proceed. Federal District Court Judge Michael Simon of Portland has dictated that dam breaching must be among the alternatives analyzed.

The semester-long course, taught by associate professor Jolie B. Kaytes, began with an overview of the issues surrounding dams and fish. The students studied salmon ecology, navigation and regional economics. They visited lower Granite Dam, the Port of Wilma and the Lewiston Levee Pathway. They ventured up river to view a free-flowing section of the Snake near Buffalo Eddy. They met with farmers and members of the Nez Perce Tribe.

Kaytes then asked them to redesign Lewiston's waterfront, with or without the dams in place.

"This is a fantastic challenge for landscape architecture students, figuring out a way to make a vital waterfront," she said.

Most, if not all, chose a future without dams, but some created designs that could be implemented with either free-flowing or slack water. A common takeaway for the students was breaching would allow the city to regain its connection to its waterfront. Their work was concentrated between the Southway Bridge and the confluence of the two rivers.

"With the dams removed, it really gives you an opportunity to reconnect the entire community with the natural processes of the river," student Ian Conrardy said.

Many of the designs focus on retaining and expanding community green space along Snake River Avenue in the form of parks and plazas. Students looked dimly on the industrial zoning there and instead chose a mixed-use zone which would allow for pedestrian-friendly boutiques, eateries and recreation-oriented small businesses like kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals.

One student envisioned repurposing barges into floating green spaces. Another pictured an elevated boardwalk above the river near the confluence. Several of the students removed the levees or reduced their size to make beaches, expected to emerge after the dams are breached, more accessible.

Some of the designs replaced the levees with lower versions. Others punched passageways through them and included emergency gates that could be closed during flood events. One student would use riprap from the levees to build rapids and a whitewater park. Other designs included piers, docks or sky bridges.

The students will present their designs at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Lewiston City Library, and their work will stay there through June.

---

Barker may be contacted at ebarker@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.

May 7, 2018

dam.lsrA study commissioned by the Northwest Energy Coalition concludes that energy from four lower Snake River dams can be replaced with a combination of solar, wind, energy efficiency and demand response.

And, the Coalition says, these new energy sources would still provide reliable power to the Northwest and come with only small increases in ratepayer costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, a consultant for Northwest RiverPartners who looked at the study questioned its affordability and reliability findings.

The Coalition, which represents about 100 organizations seeking clean energy solutions to restoring salmon, hired independent consultants Energy Strategies to find out if reliable and affordable clean energy options could replace the power now generated by the four dams. At an April 4 news conference, Fred Heutte, the Coalition's senior policy associate, said the company found no new natural gas plants are necessary, although some of the energy replaced if dams were removed would likely come from existing gas or other carbon-emitting energy sources.

The study outlined several possible scenarios for replacing the dams, including the construction of new gas-fired power plants. But at its news conference, the Coalition focused on a "balanced-plus" portfolio that adds 1250 MW of new wind power, 250 MW of new solar, 160 aMW of energy efficiency and 500 MW of demand response--energy saved by compensating users who stop using energy when it's most needed.

The balanced-plus option would add about 360,275 tons of carbon to the environment--an increase of about 1 percent--if greenhouse gas policies remain as they are today. And it would cost an estimated $464 million a year, requiring increased revenues of 3 percent beginning in 2026. NWEC said that's an average of $1.28 more per month for residential customers.

Heutte said the four dams on the lower Snake River have been identified as a major threat to salmon. Failing to recover the fish hurts not only the environment, but also the fishing and tourism industries, American Indian tribes, and other species in the ecosystem, including orcas.

The Coalition's presentation noted that the Northwest Power and Conservation Council has set a goal of 2 to 4 percent of sustained returns for salmon survival, and 4- to 6-percent returns to move toward recovery. "In the last 20 years, return rates for wild Snake River salmon have largely hovered between 0.5 and 1 percent--far below what's required for wild salmon to survive and thrive into the future."

Heutte said removing the dams--which provide about 4 percent of the region's hydro power--would speed up river flows and cool water temperatures, contributing to higher survival rates for both juveniles and returning adults.

Sean O'Leary, the Coalition's communications director, said the Coalition looked into removing the dams because federal agencies will be examining the possibility in a court-ordered environmental impact statement on operating 14 dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. But while removing the four dams could be key to restoring declining salmon populations, "We don't have any interest in replacing any other dams," he said. "We support clean energy, including clean energy from hydro."

Jim Litchfield, a consultant for Northwest RiverPartners, said it's not surprising that consultants were able to come up with a mix of other energy resources to replace the four dams. "That's what power planners do." A former power planning director of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Litchfield reviewed the study and said he wouldn't call an increase in costs that ranges from about $400 million to $1.2 billion affordable, especially when all of the costs fall on BPA at a time when it's struggling to remain viable.

He also questioned the reliability findings, which he said aren't the same conclusions as those reached in a recent NWPCC analysis showing that the region needs about 1,200 MW of new resources before 2023 in order to replace energy generated by coal plants that are going off line. "These new resources are needed to replace the output of coal plants that are going to be shut down," Litchfield wrote in an email. "If the dams were also removed, that would only make the system reliability even worse."

In an interview, Litchfield said the study credibly explores options for rebalancing the region's energy needs if it suddenly lost the 3,000 MW of capacity, or 1,000 aMW of energy, from the four lower Snake River dams.

"But it doesn't really answer the question of, 'Should we take the Snake River dams out?' There are a lot of other factors. They don't just provide power, but also navigation, irrigation, recreation; and they provide power system attributes you don't get from other resources," he said.

The study also ignores other impacts of dam removal--such as the increase in carbon emissions if farmers transport wheat by rail or truck instead of barges, or the overall change in carbon emissions throughout the West, where much of the hydropower is currently sold, and not just the four Northwestern states examined.

Litchfield added that there is no evidence in the study or anywhere else that removing the dams would recover four of the 13 ESA-listed stocks that spawn in the Snake River basin.

"The economic analysis is not very honest, in that it tries to spread it to everybody," he said. "But all of those costs land on Bonneville; they don't land on anybody else." The study also does not look at the cost of removing the dams, although O'Leary said previous examinations have shown that it costs more in capital expenditures to maintain the dams than to remove them.

O'Leary, however, also noted that the Coalition studied but rejected the higher-cost scenarios, and added that the decision to view costs across all Northwest households is the same methodology used by the NWPCC.

Joseph Bogaard, executive director of Save Our Wild Salmon, said in a news release that costs of replacing the dams may drop even more, due to the plunging cost of renewables and the ability to fine-tune the energy resources identified in the study. In addition, he said, the dams are aging, and the cost of replacing worn-out turbines, for example, is predicted to cost at least $1.5 billion.

He said scientists have identified the removal of the lower Snake River dams as the most effective, and likely the only way, to protect endangered wild salmon and steelhead from extinction. "This Power Replacement Study explodes the myth that we can't have both wild salmon and clean energy. Instead it shows that we can remove these four deadly dams, restore one of our nation's great salmon rivers and improve the Northwest's energy system," he said.

Ben Kujala, NWPCC's current director of power planning, said he views the study as a "conversation starter." The Council provided a lot of data for the study--just as it does for other studies--but has not vetted its findings, he said. "If you really look into it, it's not one-sided. There are things people who are on either side can look at and use as part of their argument ... Is this comprehensive? Probably not, but I think it adds something," he said. "It was a good and very interesting study."

Kujala added that it's not easy to come up with a reliable, clean energy option for replacing a significant amount of hydropower. "Honestly, with our existing system today, if you remove something like the lower Snake River dams, you automatically end up emitting more carbon," he said. "It's just a natural consequence."

As for the costs, he said, "I think there are many, many ways to run the power system, if you take money off the table." -K.C. Mehaffey<mailto:kcmehaffey@newsdata.com>

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