For Immediate Release—March 31, 2023
Public calls on White House for plan to replace Snake River dams
SEATTLE—Today, fishermen, energy experts, rural businesses and families, salmon and orca advocates, and youth leaders all called on the federal government to develop a plan to remove the four lower Snake River dams and replace the services they provide before Northwest salmon go extinct.
Hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the listening session aimed to gather public input on litigation about the lower Snake River dams, which is currently paused to allow for mediation.
Last July, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report confirmed that removing the dams is essential to stop the decline in Snake River salmon populations, echoing decades of prior research that have said the same. Replacing the services provided by the dams is a necessary step in ensuring the region continues to have affordable renewable energy and reliable agricultural transportation and irrigation systems.
Participants thanked Senator Patty Murray, Washington state legislators and Governor Jay Inslee for their leadership in planning how to replace the services currently provided by the dams.
An additional listening session will be held on Monday, April 3, from 10:00am to 1:00pm PDT.
Quotations from today’s session are included below.
“...[B]reaching the lower Snake River dams creates opportunity to redirect resources to the other system dams that provide flexibility when paired with variable energy resources and new or emerging resource science and technologies, better preserving, and expanding our clean energy portfolios, particularly useful to small market remote rural counties like mine… Restoration of the lower Snake River fish runs is widely beneficial to many Americans and their economies. A Copernican-like shift of leadership and allocation of federal resources for mitigating and replacing lost services required before breaching the LSRD is critical and a key step forward to a better, more resilient environment and energy future.”
Ken Hayes, Commissioner, Clallam County PUD
“The importance of these fish and the outfitting & guiding industry to these rural Idaho communities cannot be overstated. Yet fishing outfitters and guides and their communities continue to helplessly watch the downward arc of Idaho’s anadromous fish. Their hardship is not hypothetical; it is real and immediate and long-endured.”
Aaron Lieberman, Executive Director, Idaho Outfitters & Guides Association
“We support an expedient decision and process to remove the four lower Snake River dams and replace the services they provide. The restoration of a free-flowing river is essential for the Northwest Tribal Nations. Salmon recovery is central to environmental justice for the Northwest’s Indigenous communities. It enhances their opportunities for cultural, subsistence and commercial fishing, and honors the treaty obligations of the United States.”
Rein Attemann, Washington Conservation Action
“I’ve gone to the San Juan Islands every year to look for the Southern Resident [orcas] and I used to see them every summer without fail, but now these sightings have become few and far between as the orcas become dispersed in search of dwindling chinook salmon…The Snake River salmon are teetering on the edge of extinction and the Southern Resident orcas are speeding ever closer to function extinction. With support for breaching growing among political leaders, right now is the time for the Biden administration to act.”
Owen Begley-Collier, 17-Year Old Orca Advocate, WYORCA
“Building the Snake River dams in order to make Lewiston/Clarkston a seaport has failed to produce the economic response that was the promise that sold these projects in the 1960’s. Construction of the lower Snake dams was a high-risk experiment in social engineering that has placed an iconic salmon species at risk. Please fix this problem—breach the dams and replace the lost services. We owe it to the Tribes, and we owe it to ourselves.”
Don Parks, Resident of Redmond, Washington
“The Snake basin contains the largest area of high-quality Pacific salmon and steelhead habitat left in the lower 48 states. This habitat is increasingly important for them as climate change proceeds, providing a haven of cold waters and the habitat integrity and complexity they need to build and maintain healthy, resilient populations. And yet, even here in the best of the best habitat remaining, the impact of the dams on our salmon and steelhead is unquestionable. Downstream, salmon and steelhead populations on the John Day Rivers and Yakima Rivers must cross three and four dams, respectively. These populations are returning at sustainable rates, nearly four times as high as salmon and steelhead in the Snake basin, which must cross 8 dams and are reaching critical thresholds of risk.”
Helen Neville, Senior Scientist, Trout Unlimited
“...Cascade Fisheries recognizes that actions taken in the Snake River benefits all salmon species in the Columbia by decreasing water temperatures in the mainstem of the Columbia River. Colder water temperatures will help ensure these endangered salmon and steelhead species have a better chance of survival through their journeys through the gauntlet of 14 large dams on the river. With warmer air temperatures and reduced snowpack in our mountains as a result of climate change, now is [the] time to act to ensure survival of these iconic fisheries.”
Christine Parson, President, Cascade Fisheries
“The [NWEC 2022] study concludes that a diverse resource portfolio consisting of wind, solar, demand response, storage, and market purchases at an annual cost of $277 million was able to sufficiently replace the energy, capacity value, and ramping historically provided by the four lower Snake dams.”
Sara Patton, Former Executive Director of NW Energy Coalition
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