ake dam breaching report seriously
ECONorthwest issued a report that concludes taking out the Lower Snake River dams makes economic sense. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse were quick to denounce it as “another example of Seattle-based interests failing to understand our way of life in Central and Eastern Washington.” The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin jumped on board: “It’s essentially propaganda.”
They are right. The report is dated, naïve and dismissive — but take it seriously. The report may be flawed, but it is crystal clear about the politics. ECONorthwest uses a Save Our Wild Salmon study from 2018 that asked registered voters from around the state:
“Removing four dams on the Lower Snake River would restore wild salmon and improve water quality, but might lead to a slight increase in electricity costs. Would you be willing to pay an additional ____ on your electric bill in order to ensure that wild salmon would be protected?”
Sixty-three percent were willing to pay $7 per month more on their electric bill to save the wild salmon.
The question may have been hypothetical; it may have been leading; it may have played on emotions. Not much different from our usual electoral choices. If put to a statewide vote, the dams would be breached.
We on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass are not going to make the eventual decisions about the Lower Snake River Dams. Our representatives are not doing us any favor by telling us otherwise.
It is only responsible to take seriously the questions raised by “Seattle-based interests.” It is those interests who have the votes and the money. It is up to the proponents of the dams to identify the costs of breaching the dams and make sure that those effects are mitigated in advance of breaching.
Call it insurance, call it planning, call it prudent. It is not shouting slogans. It is not playing politics with our future. It is doing solid analysis and being honest