Idaho Congressman Questions Snake River Dams

U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson is publicly questioning whether the four Lower Snake River dams should remain. The influential Idaho legislator’s questions could lead to serious discussions about whether and how to remove Snake River dams.

Idaho Congressman Questions Snake River Dams

Photo by Ben Moon.

U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson is publicly questioning whether the four Lower Snake River dams should remain. The influential Idaho legislator’s questions could lead to serious discussions about whether and how to remove Snake River dams.

Scientists and fisheries advocates have long said that removing Snake River dams would help restore salmon runs, killer whales, and fishing communities. But most politicians from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho—even those who style themselves “progressives” or “environmentalists”—won’t discuss dam breaching.  

Congressman Simpson is taking a longer view: “All of Idaho’s salmon runs are either threatened or endangered. Look at the number of returning salmon, and the trend line is not going up; it’s going down.” “[W]hat do we want the Northwest to look like in 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years?” Simpson asked.

As the ranking member of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, Congressman Simpson might do more than ask questions. His subcommittee oversees funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that operates the four Lower Snake River dams.

Whatever comes next, it’s refreshing to hear a politician ask whether four obsolete dams are really more important than the living legacy of salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest.        

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