Retired Judge Redden: Take those dams down

U.S. District Judge James Redden doesn’t hold back when Aaron Kunz of EarthFix and Outdoor Idaho asks him how to save endangered salmon.

“I think we need to take those dams down,” Redden said.

Redden stepped down in 2011 after ruling that the federal government’s plan for protecting salmon and operating dams on the Columbia and Snake River was not adequate. He ordered a new plan be written by the end of 2013.

Federal dam managers have alternatives to breaching the four dams on the Snake Rive in Washington, Redden told Kunz. They include spilling more water over all the dams to divert juvenile salmon away from powerhouses on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers.

“The spills, which they do not like, that has been very helpful,” Redden said.

Salmon advocates say removing the Snake dams is cheaper in the long run and will have fewer impacts on the region than alternatives including spill. Dam supporters say it will end barge transportation to Lewiston and remove important carbon-free power sources.

Here is the interview that will run this summer on Outdoor Idaho.

Judge James Redden on NW Dams from EarthFix on Vimeo.

Here's more of Aaron Kunz' interview on why Redden ordered spill:

Judge James Redden on spill over the NW dams from EarthFix on Vimeo.

And on the role of science in fisheries decisions:

Judge James Redden on using Best Science from EarthFix on Vimeo.

Burn'em to the ground

Yes lets get rid of those dams in question and NO it will not end barge traffic on the river as there were tug & barges running the river before the dams were in place. Yes it was back in the wild wild west days, but it was done back then and can be done today and probably even better. But hey when the salmon and steelhead are extinct we can get some from Canada, I bet they will be bigger.

Do wolves float or something?


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

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You need to check your 4th

You need to check your 4th grade history again. Prior to the completion of the dam system, the last freight loads to Lewiston were paddle wheel steamers.

Dams = Berlin Wall

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Lost in the Nineties Tonight.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

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Do your research and then get back to me

I am sure you have loads of free time. Go look for the TV program "Sagebush Sailors". Its all about tug & barges traversing the rapids to get up to the grain silo's. I have it on VHS.


whoa?? kicking it old school!!! Glad i am not the only one!

Research Done

A journey back to the beginnings of commercial transportation on the Columbia River, SAGEBRUSH SAILORS recounts the story of daring 19th-century riverboat captains who piloted the raging rapids. ( 28 min )

Key phrase being "19th Century"

Yeah, let's tear down

all the dams & put up windmills all over to trash the scenic countrysides and make-do with sub-par electrical output. The ones yelling the loudest about the salmon will be the ones yelling the most about the loss of energy to run their AC's, etc... Judge Redden is like Ted Kennedy, trying to make a last-hurrah impact that will leave negative repercussions of such large-scale that everyone will be mucking through the mess rather than dealing with issues that are priority.

The debate isn't about ALL the dams in the Columbia/Snake,

it's only 4 of them, among well over 400 total in the Columbia Basin. And the four (4) in question are low-value, producing only a little electricity that has already been replaced by conservation (curly CFL light bulbs), more efficient appliances, wind turbines, solar, and new gas generators. Keep the remaining 400+ dams.

If those four dams disappeared today (they are located between Lewiston ID and Pasco WA), very few in the NW would even notice. Except for one thing - Idaho wild salmon would surge back into Idaho in their traditional abundance, feeding jobs, families and riverside towns.


So what about the people that work at those dams. They have families as well. If you want to take their job away will you help them find a new job??

Jobs Impacted by LSR dam removal

What kind and how many jobs are we talking about?

For the most part, dam employees are government employees working for the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE). A private company hires security personnel. Not often recognized is the "Salmon Recovery Business" which is huge. The federal government spends upwards of $400 million annually on salmon recovery efforts.

In 1999 the ACOE prepared its "Lower Snake River Juvenile Salmon Migration Feasibility Report / Environmental Impact Statement" which estimates a net loss of about 2300 farm labor jobs as it was assumed it would be most economical to take some farm land out of production. As well, there would be some jobs in the Lewiston area that would cease with the end of commodity river barging such as log chippers and laundry services with the loss of the occasional cruise ship. "Permanent job losses are projected to be larger than permanent gains, with a net long-term loss of 1,372 jobs in the lower Snake River region" (ACOE report).

On the job creation side, salmon advocates point to a huge job increase from a restored river ecosystem and a restored fishery. The ACOE report finds that "Breaching the dams would generate a substantial number of short-term jobs in the lower Snake River. These jobs are primarily expected to occur as a result of construction activities associated with replacement power facilities, recreation facilities, transportation infrastructure, pump and well modification, and project implementation. Relatively large short-term employment is expected to be associated with power plant construction (5,572 jobs) and transportation facilities construction (6.982 jobs). These totals represent the maximum annual employment that would occur in each case. The maximum short-term employment gain projected for any one year is 14,871."

I hope that this all helps to inform the discussion as that is our mission at

Quit spamming

I don't care what you think about that. I've dispatched of whiny zombie drones and such before. C'est un comment/


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

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cost of power about to rise...

If the dams are removed, along with the access to hydro power, can you imagine what the cost of electricity is going to be like? I can only imagine, considering that I live in a country that does not use hydro power, and it is outrageously expensive!

When do animals have more rights than humans do? I have yet to figure that one out.

Power Rates are heading downward in the NW

In their Sixth Power Plan (see, the NW Power and Conservation Council finds that rates in the NW will go down in the next 20 years regardless of whether the Lower Snake River (LSR) dams stay or not. But they go down a little more (about 0.2%) if the dams stay. The reason removing the LSR dams wouldn't raise rates much (it does a little, 0.2%) is that the impact, when divided over the huge regional loads, is pretty tiny.

Hopefully this informs the discussion as that is our mission at

I can't put up with liars and constant liars. Live in a tent.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

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Dams provide that much??

Do you think we would really see a decrease in the amount of power produced by these dams?? NO. I am sure that Idaho power would be the first to increase their prices we pay, only the rich get richer.
But ya go to your yahoo search and type in "Sagebrush Sailors"
its a 28 minute programs about tug & barge operations before the dams. But in reality the dams are not the only problem, Sea Lions, commercial fishing, cormorants, terns, sqawfish. Just to name a few. Now we have the crew from the anti whaling bunch "Sea Sheppard" putting people at the locations where sea lions are eating hundreds of salmon and steelhead just to guard them from being killed.

Cost of power will rise

No matter what happens the cost of power is going to rise. There has been plenty of water to make power for the last 2 years and our power bill still goes up. Its pretty cool to see a prop driven tug boat push a barge up through rapids.

Idaho Power customers get virtually NO power from the 4 dams

in question, as Idaho Power's juice comes from coal plants, gas generators, and other dams (NOT these four salmon killers). Check your next power bill, notice the line item for 'benefits provided by BPA'.

My last bill had 5 cents - yes, only 5 cents - on that line. If the four dams disappeared today, nobody in Idaho would know about it until they turned on the TV news, powered of course by other sources of electricity.

Nobody in Idaho??

Once again it's confirmed that southern Idaho is the only part of Idaho that counts. What about those north of Grangeville (Idaho) who do receive power from BPA

that's why I said "Idaho Power" customers, not Idaho customers.

There are several electric cooperatives in Idaho that purchase power from BPA. Regionwide, including Idaho north of Grangeville, the four dams generate only about 1000 MW in a regional power "pool" totaling well over 50,000 MW. Meanwhile, the NW Power and Conservation Council reports almost 3000 MW of energy gain from conservation in recent years, and something like 5000 MW of new windpower now online. In that context, the 1000 MW total contribution of the four Lower Snake dams is tiny and irrelevant. Right now, BPA is dealing with an enormous energy surplus, with more energy than the region can use or sell. Last spring, BPA couldn't even give it away - to northern Idaho or anywhere else.

Bottom line - if the four dams were "turned off" tonight, nobody would notice. Lights wouldn't dim, the stove, TV, furnace and AC would hum on into the night, at the same cost.

You guys have tried to push that crap for ages...still not sense


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

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more energy than the region can use or sell.

"Gee, we have more than we can sell at any price."
"What are we going to do with all this excess electricity? We'll have to throw it away!"

From BPA:
In years when the Northwest experiences heavy snow and rain, the Columbia River system can generate more electricity than BPA customers need. BPA offers this surplus energy to its Northwest customers first. Only then, if there are no takers, utilities and municipalities outside the region can buy it.

If Redden is retired then take HIM down too.

le OINK pour du Zombies


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

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The dams were a bad idea from the beginning

The dams should never have been built in the first place: it is one of the most egregious examples of pork-barrel spending during the era of big government that did more harm than good.

The lower Snake dams were the last major dams constructed on the Columbia/Snake, 1962-72, for a reason: the dam sites are poor and cost/benefit is weak at best. They are run-of-the-river dams that are mostly for navigation, constructed for the novelty of making Lewiston a seaport. Other aspects, e.g. flood control, power generation, irrigation and recreation, could not justify their construction today or when they were approved. The navigation aspect of the dams amounts to subsidized transportation costs that benefit very few companies and individuals, that the rest of us pay for.

Meanwhile, the most pristine and productive salmon habitat in the lower 48 sits unused by a resource, salmon, that would boost Idaho's and the country's economy, health and environment--significant salmon populations are not possible anywhere else in the lower 48, this area is what oranges are to Florida, peaches are to Georgia and oil is to Texas, unique. Breaching the dams would restore lost fisheries, i.e. recreational, commercial and tribal. Increased salmon consumption, due to lower prices and easier access, would boost the health of the region with one of the healthiest sources of protein on the planet--omega-3, etc--replacing one of the least healthy, beef--heart disease, etc. The environment would benefit from the transportation of nutrients from the sea and the return of a lost protein source for wildlife.

The main reasons for reduced salmon runs cannot be attributed to sea lions, birds, sea conditions etc. Two cases that refute that are Alaska, which has few dams and a very healthy salmon population/industry--note that Alaska salmon and Snake salmon roam the same areas during their ocean lifespan. Also, the Hanford Reach of the Columbia supports a healthy salmon population despite the four lower Columbia dams, i.e. the effect of passing eight dams for Snake salmon is the problem.

Remove the dams, the sooner the bettter.

by all means, borrow my Delorean OK, after 4.5 years

I can flag you more and will rarely hesitate. Guerra por Muerte!


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ok smart one

So you do the math, if there are at least 6000 sea lions between the mouth of the Columbia river and Bonneville dam and each of those 6000 kill only 1 salmon or steelhead a day, you just lost 6000 salmon and or steelhead. Thats each day for as long as the fish are in the river. Once the fish get above Bonneville dam then they have the native american nets to contend with. So those sea lions are consuming 180,000 fish a month, oh and lets factor in sturgeon, smelt, shad. These numbers I know to be true for a fact. Now lets see your numbers.

Red Baby, logic missing a cylinder here.

Most of those fish will never make it far into the Columbia, EVER. There are MANY MANY more at the mouth. Predation by other sea animals, including BIRDS, ORCA...

Seals and sea lions don't tend to live near river mouths in the first place so your theory have some misconceptions and the logistical section might be in error.

Sea lions don't take any blame for overfishing. They survive on them as nature designed them to. It's NOT like the neighbor's dog eats your cat's food. I put the dishes up on a picnic table so the fat little weiner dog (whom I love dearly) couldn't get at them.

For you as a non-fish, certainly a non-sea mammal to be so blindly judgemental steals the message of your expressed devotion dead away.

You make the same mistakes as all men to the borders of Eden...presuming to know what the mute thinkers think.



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Put us out of your misery

Let me understand this. The four dams being removed are low-value dams and you are going to replace their electrical production with failed CFL mercury filled bulbs, wind turbines, solar panels and gas generators. Hmm, are we going to run those gas generators on your Arab buddy’s oil at $4/gal? Can we make gas for those generators with algae for less than $4/gal? Say, what about the solar panels? Miles of solar panels on the landscape are beautiful glittering in the sun and would provide electricity for at least two mobile homes LOL. Oh boy, you folks really inspire confidence. Hey Obama, is it true the world isn’t flat?

Thanks to the abstract thought of progressive Democrats and their environmental law in America we can no longer manufacture goods or produce jobs. We can't drill for oil, we can't log, we can't ranch or farm, and we can't mine. Thanks to enviro litigation American corporations have outsourced manufacturing, jobs/labor and have moved them overseas while millions of immigrants illegally enter our country and take our jobs and/or go on welfare. 47% of Americans do not pay any taxes so the rich, our producers have to cough up more dough. You know…wink, wink, "Pay their fair share." Haven’t I heard that phrase before in a manifesto somewhere? We have become a nation of users (losers). We produce and contribute almost nothing to the world as a nation.

I think dam removal is a good idea if it would flood Idaho and put us all out of your misery.

Dear Dinglefritz, look up Net Zero NEARBY

Former Airman owns it, has no utility connections. Might get ESPN.


You forgot your Happy Meal, Mr. Nazareth!


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rangerider, you might be misunderstanding

the current energy situation in the Pacific NW. Some clarifications:
- first, the term "gas generators" refers to natural gas, which the USA has, and drills for, in abundance. The natural gas industry claims that we (north Americans) have enough domestic natural gas to power our enery needs for at least another century. So - this doesn't involve any oil or gasoline produced or imported from Arab/Middle East sources. Note also that domestic natural gas production has expanded under the current Democratic Administration, as has domestic oil production.
- Solar panels - check the rooftops around town. The obvious place for solar panels is on the roof, not dispersed or scattered across the landscape. Technology now offers photovoltaic shingles - yes, shingles that generate solar power for the business or residence underneath.
- the four Lower Snake dams that are at the heart of salmon recovery debates produce about 1000MW of energy per year. Conservation programs have already saved 2500 MW per year. Looks like the energy from the four biggest salmon-killers has already been replaced.
- jobs overseas - yes, too many manufacturing jobs have moved overseas. But we (WE) shoppers create our own problem. Do you own a vehicle made in America? How many drive cars made in Japan, Germany, Korea? Check your shirt, pants, shoes, TV, coffee pot. If we're serious about moving jobs back home to the USA, we'll have to shop more intelligently.
- Dams are industrial facilities, each one with a different set of costs and benefits. All have a limited lifespan, just like a factory. No one can expect 1930s energy technology, based on damming rivers, to continue forever.

Let's be clear

Oil and gas production has increased despite this current administration, not because of it. If this administration was the cause, oil and gas production on public lands would have gone up, not down. This administration has never been shy about saying that they are all about huge subsidies for green energy, and they have been as active as they can be in reducing our ability to produce our own energy from fossil fuels. Including spitting in the face of their own scientists and issuing illegal moratoriums on gulf oil exploration, and flatly ignoring a court order to do otherwise.

Truth is hard to come by