A Step Closer to Un-damming the Snake

Draft report from Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee shows un-damming the Snake River is “possible” and urgently needed.

Draft report from Sen. Murray and Gov. Inslee shows un-damming the Snake River is “possible” and urgently needed.

A draft report on dam removal brings us another step closer to un-damming the Lower Snake River and stopping the extinction of salmon and Southern Resident orcas. We have a long way to go in a short time, but we still have an opportunity to deliver a huge victory for salmon and our entire region.   

Senator Murray and Governor Inslee just released a draft report showing that it would be possible to replace the services of the four Lower Snake River dams. What does this mean? It means that it’s possible to modernize energy production in the Northwest, modify our transportation and irrigation systems, and create better opportunities for everyone. The draft report also explains the urgency of Snake River dam removal for salmon, orcas, and Tribal cultures.

To be clear, the draft report does not recommend un-damming the Lower Snake River. The draft report is an information document created based on feedback from many different people, businesses, and governments across the region whose lives, livelyhoods, and cultures are intertwined with the Lower Snake River and the four dams. It is meant to inform an upcoming decision about dam removal by Northwest leaders and the Biden Administration. We still expect our leaders to follow through on their promises to propose a durable path forward for the Lower Snake River by July 31, 2022. 

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The draft report shows that replacing the services of the dams would come with a hefty price tag. But let’s put that in perspective: we’ve already spent $24 billion on failed approaches to salmon recovery, and many salmon runs are on the verge of extinction. We can keep wasting money, or we can invest in something that will actually help bring back fish—and also improve the Northwest’s energy and transportation infrastructure.    

Columbia Riverkeeper does not agree with everything in the draft report, which at certain points exaggerates the dams’ usefulness. Despite some flaws, Riverkeeper welcomes the draft report and its conclusions that removing the Lower Snake River dams is both feasible and urgent.     

Can you comment to help improve the draft report and build momentum for Snake River dam removal? Your comment is important to show Senator Murray, Governor Inslee, other Northwest leaders, and the Biden Administration that un-damming the Lower Snake River is critically important to people throughout our region. 

As the draft report shows, we are on the right track, but there’s still a lot of work ahead in the next few months. Thanks for everything you do!