Doc Hastings, chairman of the House Resources Committee, is holding a hearing as we speak on his bill to save all hydroelectric dams and punish the groups who have advocated removing them.
The bill isn’t going anywhere but it does provide a great forum to for him to argue protecting the four dams that fisheries biologists say may have to go if salmon be recovered. His position remains popular in the region
Tom Flint President of the Board of Commissioners, Grant County Public Utility District, which has all its dams on the Columbia blamed Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game for poisoning sockeye in the 1950s, not the dams for their demise.
Kara Rowe of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers said removing the Snake River dams would place 700,000 trucks on the road when the barging would end.
Jack Heffling president of United Power Trades Organization said taking out the dams would cost job, and more than $800 million to replace the power.
Jim W. Sanders, general manager of the Benton County Public Utility District warned that natural gas would have to be used to replace the dams to integrate wind power.
“It’s hard to believe we still have to argue the economic benefits of the dams,” he said.
Glen Spain northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations noted of the 84,000 dams nationwide, 5 percent have been declared safety hazards which would cost an estimated $16 billion.
Rebecca A. Miles, the former chair of the Nez Perce Tribe spoke for herself and praised the collaborative approach advocated by Republican Sen. Mike Crapo.
“Our salmon and our people have borne the consequences of decisions to construct dams –such as the four dams on the lower Snake River – that have had devastating effects on our fish and our people…
“Given this backdrop, you might expect that the Nez Perce people might simply demand that the United States honor their Treaty and their promises, and that they take responsibility for the impact those dams have had on the salmon and on us – and do whatever it takes, regardless of what the impact may be on our neighbors and our local communities.
“And yet the Tribe’s support for breaching the four lower Snake River dams has not stopped at what is best for the fish and what it believes the best biology and best economics support. Instead, the Tribe has taken the additional step of supporting investment in local communities that will be affected by this decision. For example, decades after the construction of the lower Snake River dams, the Port of Lewiston continues to be subsidized by local residents. The Tribe’s vision is not to dismantle the Port of Lewiston but to transform it from a subsidized “seaport” to an economically viable and sustainable enterprise.”
Jim Yost of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council said hydroelectric power is 80 percent efficient Even a gas fired turbine is only 62 percent efficient. Wind is far less.
“It’s like Beanie Babies it’s just a fad,” Yost said.
Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission said their farmers are more productive than Idaho potato farmers because of the federal dams. And they have a bigger food processing business because of the cheap power from federal projects.
Now Hasting is showing Aaron Kunz interviewing retired calling for removing the four lower Snake Dams but none of the others.
He asks the panel what they think. You can answer for them.
California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock used his questions to dismiss wind and solar as alternatives to hydroelectric power. He said solar has been around for more than a hundred years and still is the most expensive power source.
He also blasted the plan to remove four dams on the Klamath, which was negotiated by former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.
He said those dams were important power producers and anyone supporting their removal was an extremist. But Spain said they only produce 82 megawatts of power while causing serious problems for the salmon that his members’ need for their jobs.
McClintock asked Spain if he could name any new hydro dam he supported. He named several small hydro projects but that did not satisfy McClintock, who then questioned his credibility.