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Restoring the Lower Snake River

imagesFrom the desk of Sara Patton

February 5, 2014

Critics of the proposed test of enhanced spill at Columbia Basin dams to aid endangered salmon’s spring migration are overstating the measure’s greenhouse gas effects. In the attached letter to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Save Our wild Salmon and the NW Energy Coalition explain that untapped energy efficiency and new renewable energy can replace most and eventually all of the hydropower generation lost to spill.

The letter begins with the Council’s own assessment of the effects of replacing potential lost hydropower entirely with natural gas, puts the resulting emissions increase in context, and then explains that replacement with fossil fuels is neither optimal nor cheapest. We have clean energy options, and should adopt them.

As the letter notes, “Playing salmon recovery against clean energy is a false choice that harms both objectives.” So is playing climate change mitigation (additional spill, in this case) against emissions reductions.

The test suggested by state, federal and Tribal scientists can determine how far enhanced spill can go toward moving list species toward actual recovery and set the stage for negotiated common solutions for river users and power consumers.

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