Lower Snake River Dams Benefit Replacement Study:
The Murray-Inslee Process
The Murray-Inslee Process
In the fall of 2021, Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Patty Murray (D) announced a process to examine whether the benefits provided by the lower Snake River dams can be replaced. We were immediately alarmed by the framing of this study, which asks whether we could replace the dams and not whether we should.
Our concerns stem from the fact that the currently available science and data do not clearly show a meaningful advantage to removing these dams to recover threatened salmon populations. On the other hand, the evidence is clear that climate change is a threat to all salmon. Clean, renewable energy from hydropower is a critical component of our climate change fighting tool kit.
Hydropower is a unique renewable energy resource that comes with its own energy storage. Water can be held behind a dam, and then released on-demand to produce electricity. This allows our hydropower resources to provide power around the clock and fill in the gaps for wind and solar power.
Governor Inslee himself has been a strong advocate for decarbonization, and has also acknowledged the threat that warming, acidified ocean conditions present to salmon. In this context, a process to remove and replace highly productive, carbon-free hydroelectric dams seems contradictory to his commitments to fight climate change.
Notably, the process closely resembles the Lower Snake River Dams Stakeholder Engagement Report that concluded just two years ago. It will primarily rely on stakeholder interviews to reach it‘s conclusion, with a deadline of July 31st of this year.
We are asking the public to engage in this process and take a stand for hydro. We don’t want to take a step back in our decarbonization efforts or raise the electricity costs for millions of people. Your voice carries extraordinary weight on this matter and your input could shape the future of hydroelectricity in our region.
You can submit input now by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We urge you to act now and tell Governor Inslee and Senator Murray why the lower Snake River dams must remain. You can also make an impact on social media by using #StandForHydro in your posts.
Not sure where to start?
Read our Press Statement here.
Read our op-ed here.
Contact us or sign-up for our newsletter
The worsening climate crisis has led to dire warnings, including the recent Code Red for humanity from the United Nations and a joint health alert on global warming from over 200 medical journals worldwide.
These warnings make it absolutely clear that hydropower’s carbon-free attributes are tremendously important to the health of our planet and its people.
Unfortunately, despite its importance, the future of Northwest hydropower is in real jeopardy. Some well-known groups have loudly called for the removal of productive hydropower dams, like the four lower Snake River dams in Eastern Washington, claiming it’s the only way to help salmon.
We respectfully disagree with these claims. Perhaps the most important thing we can do for salmon is to fight climate change, which poses the single greatest threat to their survival.
Meanwhile, fully 35% of our region’s electric generation is still fossil-fueled, and we are in a race against time to replace it with clean alternatives.
Adding to the challenge, we’ll need to add even more clean energy to power electric vehicles and to heat buildings that are eliminating natural gas.
In this context, calls to remove productive hydropower dams just don’t make sense.
We encourage you—whatever your perspective—to write to your respective US Senators today, and take an active role in determining our energy future!
Let our elected leaders know that dams shouldn’t be partisan and that you want to preserve the lower Snake River dams!
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There are tons of great opportunities to get involved in local and federal policy processes regarding energy and environmental issues here in the Northwest. Hit the button below to join our hydroelectric movement and stay up to date on ways you can get involved in our clean energy future. Together, we can make a difference.
How you can help…
There are many ways you can help us achieve our goals and help create a better Northwest. Below, we’ve provided information on how you can support clean energy, fight climate change, take care of your communities, and improve local ecosystems. We also encourage you to sign up above to join our movement, and make sure to find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.
Participate in hydropower appreciation events
Attend some of the great hydropower appreciation events that you can attend, including the annual Hydropower Appreciation Day hosted by the Seattle Sounders and RiverFest.
Connect with your local utility
Many local utilities offer opportunities for you to volunteer your time to help improve the community they serve. By reaching out and staying in touch, you can make a real difference where you live. You can start by checking out our list of members, as we represent most of the Northwest’s utilities.
Learn more about blockages for fish in your area
There are thousands of natural and manmade blockages that have been identified across the Northwest as a major barrier for fish passage. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has even created a map with details about these blockages and offers users the ability to self-report them. To get involved, check out the waterways local to you and keep an eye out for any fish passage barriers. If you identify one, we encourage you to contact your fish and wildlife department and report it.
Support local conservation group
Find and support your local conservation and/or watershed group, and get involved in projects that restore and improve the habitat for salmon.
Start in your own backyard
Choose chemicals around your household that reduce the toxicity of your water runoff, and choose native vegetation for your yard that enhances the natural habitat. It’s also important to NOT flush medications, as the chemicals are not removed in wastewater treatment.
Reduce single-use plastic waste
Single-use plastics are convenient to use, but they are also very harmful to the environment. Many of them end up in our waters and can harm or kill wildlife. Plastic is virtually indestructible, and when it does break down, it turns into microplastics that harm salmon and orcas. When you have to use single-use plastics, or any plastic for that matter, be sure it is tightly contained and disposed of properly.
Make your voice heard by local officials
Elected officials want to represent their constituents, like you. Voicing your concerns to your local representatives is one of the best things you can do to achieve better policies. Let them know that you support carbon-free, pollutant-free energy like hydropower and that you support science-based salmon recovery measures.
Encourage the use of more carbon-free hydropower
To reach our clean energy goals and increase the capacity of renewables, it is important that we support and encourage the continued use of hydropower. In addition to attending events and reaching out to government agencies and officials, one of the best ways to support hydropower is to educate your family and friends about it. There are a lot of misconceptions about hydropower, so having conversations about our largest renewable energy source in the Northwest is a great way to get others excited about the benefits of hydro.
CRSO DEIS Public Comment Period Recap
What is the CRSO DEIS?
Short for the Columbia River System Operations Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the CRSO DEIS is our first look at the comprehensive government analysis of the Northwest’s federally-operated hydro system. As part of the analysis, federal agencies were tasked with examining the lower Snake River dams—specifically, their impact on salmon and what purpose they serve for our region.
What was the outcome?
The study considered a range of preferred alternatives, including breaching all four dams. In the draft conclusion, the agencies recommended a combination of the alternatives to help communities and fish & wildlife. They also found that dam breaching was not the best alternative for our region.
The public comment period has now closed, but our mission to work towards a better Northwest continues. We want to thank everyone who participated during the 45 day period. Your actions added immense value to the federal process. You can also help our petition continue to grow by clicking the button below.