By Rocky Barker Idaho Statesman special correspondent
February 06, 2021
Dismantle Snake River dams to help salmon? Here's the $33 billion plan for it.
An Idaho Republican congressman wants to end the salmon wars by removing select hydroelectric dams, replacing the electricity lost, paying communities and businesses, and giving American Indian tribes more power.
A $33 billion Pacific Northwest energy and infrastructure proposal would end litigation over endangered salmon and authorize the removal of four dams on the Snake River in Washington beginning in 2030. U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of East Idaho released the plan after asking more than 300 groups what they would need if the dams came out.
Power marketed by the Bonneville Power Administration from the four controversial dams would be replaced. Shippers and farmers would get funds for alternatives to the barge shipping on the Snake and compensation for closed barge facilities. Lewiston in Idaho and the Tri-Cities in Washington would get billions for economic development.
Farmers across the Pacific Northwest, including those in Idaho’s Magic Valley, would get billions of dollars in incentives for water-quality projects. Farmers in Washington that now pump out of the reservoirs behind the Snake dams would get millions in compensation that they could use for altering their diversions.
The plan would be funded by a federal infrastructure bill.
“If we give the farmers, bargers, ports, the BPA and communities the necessary resources, each sector can develop a certainty and security putting the Northwest and Idaho salmon on a path to sustained viability,” Simpson said in a video news release released Saturday night.
Simpson says his “concept” would ban litigation over the four Columbia River dams for 35 years and increase salmon funding for states and tribes, which would co-manage salmon restoration.
The newly free-flowing river would be protected in a proposed Lower Snake River National Recreation Area.
Read the full story here.