Northwest River Partners

“Farmer”
Ad Facts
May 2, 2022

“The Pacific Northwest is the bread-basket for our region and the world.” 

“Combined with the state’s low-cost energy – some of the lowest in the nation – and superior crop and harvest yields, Washington is a natural choice for agricultural operations, food production, storage and manufacturing.”i

“Washington is the #1 producer of apples, blueberries, hops, pears, spearmint oil and sweet cherries. The state is the #2 producer of apricots, asparagus, grapes, potatoes and raspberries in the U.S. Washington is the second-largest producer of wine in the United States, supporting 1,000 wineries.”ii

“About one-third of Washington’s agricultural commodities are exported, 75% going to Asia markets. Food manufacturing is a $12 billion industry and is the state’s second-largest manufacturing industry.”iii

“Keeping Snake River dams in operation is essential to keep our farms working and help bring our products to market.”

Removal of LSRD would make pumps associated with these projects un-operational removing 48,000 acres of land from irrigation. This would affect approximately half of the total fruit crop and grape acreage in all of Columbia, Franklin, and Walla Walla Counties. The loss of irrigation and decreased agricultural production is assumed to result in the loss of all employment, labor income, and output associated with production of these acres.iv

The regional market area that would be directly impacted by the LSRD breaching alternative is defined as ten counties that are generally within a two-hour drive of the ports of Lewiston and Clarkston, five of which are in Washington, and five in Idaho. These counties are primarily rural agricultural areas that depend heavily upon the LSRD locks and barge transportation systems for the movement of wheat, fuel and other bulk products.v

Removing LSRD would raise the cost of transporting goods to market. For example, the cost to transport wheat, which accounted for 87% of the downbound tonnage on the lower Snake River in 2018, is estimated to increase by between 10 to 33% in average transportation costs.vi

The Columbia Snake River System is the top wheat export gateway in the United States. In most years, nearly 10% of all U.S. wheat exports move through the Snake River dams.vii

Removal of the LSRD would result in shipping activities shifting from barge to road and rail transport which would result in increases in GHG emissions associated with transportation. As barge transportation is a relatively low source of GHG emissions per ton-mile of freight compared with truck or train transportation, removal of LSRD would also increase transportation-related emissions for wheat that is currently transported along the lower Snake River by up to 53% (an increase of 0.056 MMT of CO2 ).viii

“The Snake River dams are part of the Columbia-Snake River System, a 465- mile river waterway that is the top wheat export gateway in the U.S. and the third largest grain export gateway in the world. More than half of the wheat barged on the river system moves through one or more of the dams.” ix Other studiesx suggest that shifting commodity flows from barge to truck and rail will result in even larger increases in CO2 and other harmful emissions by over 1,251,000 tons per year. This amount of CO2 increase is equivalent to the environmental impact of:

  • Adding 181,889 fossil fuel burning passenger cars
  • The cumulative emissions of a 500 MW coal-fired power plant every 5- 6 years

“They also reliably keep the power on for so many communities.”

“Without these four dams, powering through the heatwave could have been much more expensive and operationally challenging.” This is another example of the value these facilities provide the region from a clean energy perspective,’ said [Bonneville Power] Administrator John Hairston.”xi

“From December to March and particularly during the deep freeze of early 2021, the four dams on the lower Snake River were once again winter workhorses, according to a recent assessment by the Bonneville Power Administration. These four facilities not only provided important real-time electricity and critical power reserves, they also picked up slack when there was an equipment failure at Chief Joseph Dam – one of the largest dams in the Columbia River power system.”xii

“As we feel the impacts of climate change and the region builds more intermittent energy resources like wind and solar, we’re seeing more evidence that these dispatchable hydroelectric facilities are vital to public safety and electric reliability for the region,’ said BPA Administrator John Hairston.”xiii

“Removing them could raise power rates by 25% or more.”

“If Bonneville had to replace the four lower Snake River projects’ full capability with zero-carbon resources, the rate pressure could be up to 50% on wholesale power rates.”xiv

“In fact, nearly 2/3 of Washington’s electricity comes from hydropower dams.”

“Figure 3.1: Washington State Electric comes from hydropower dams.” Utilities Aggregate 2017 Fuel Mix: Using Net System Mix: Hydro, 67.7%; Coal, 13.4%; Natural Gas, 10.8%; Nuclear, 4.2%; Wind, 2.8%; Biomas, 0.6%; Biogas, 0.1%; other, 0.3%”xv

i Washington State Department of Commerce, “Industry Overview: Agriculture and Food Manufacturing”: http://choosewashingtonstate.com/why-washington/our-key-sectors/agriculture-food-processing/

ii Washington State Department of Commerce, “Industry Overview: Agriculture and Food Manufacturing”: http://choosewashingtonstate.com/why-washington/our-key-sectors/agriculture-food-processing/

iii Washington State Department of Commerce, “Industry Overview: Agriculture and Food Manufacturing”: http://choosewashingtonstate.com/why-washington/our-key-sectors/agriculture-food-processing/

iv Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement, Chapter 3, Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll7/id/14958 v LSR-Dam-Breach-Summary-Findings-Jan-10-rev.pdf (pnwa.net)

vi Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement, Chapter 3, Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences: Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement – Chapter 3 (bpa.gov)

vii Pacific Northwest Waterways Association – PNWA viii Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement, Chapter 3, Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences: Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement – Chapter 3 (bpa.gov)

ix Washington Association of Wheat Growers 2020 formal comments to federal action agencies as part of the Columbia River System Environmental Impact Statement input period. WAWG comments on Snake River dams | WAWG

x LSR-Dam-Breach-Summary-Findings-Jan-10-rev.pdf (pnwa.net)

xi “Lower Snake River dams help region power through recent heatwave: Ice Harbor key to relieving transmission congestion in Tri-Cities,” press release by, The Bonneville Power Administration, July 22, 2021: https://www.bpa.gov/about/newsroom/news-releases

xii “Lower Snake River Dams provided crucial energy and reserves in winter 2021,” press release by, The Bonneville Power Administrration, June 16, 2021: https://www.bpa.gov/about/newsroom/news-releases

xiii “Lower Snake River Dams provided crucial energy and reserves in winter 2021,” press release by, The Bonneville Power Administrration, June 16, 2021: https://www.bpa.gov/about/newsroom/news-releases

xiv “Executive Summary: Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement,” https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll7/id/14957; and “Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement,” page 3-889 shows 54% of average utility rates are attributable to power supply; and “Columbia River System Operations Environmental Impact Statement,” page 3-969 shows a 14% increase in retail residential rates for some counties, which only includes ½ of the cost for replacement. Doubling would get it to 28%.

xv “2019 Biennial Energy Report: Issues, Analysis and Updates,” Washington State Department of Commerce: http://www.commerce.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/COMMERCE-Biennial-Energy.pdf