Press Statement

June 09, 2022 Vancouver, WA

Murray-Inslee Report Falls Short, Fails to Recognize Significant Climate Impacts

Vancouver, Washington — June 9, 2022—Today the consultants hired by
Senator Patty Murray and Governor Jay Inslee released their draft report on
breaching the four hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River. Northwest
RiverPartners and many of its partner organizations have actively engaged in the
Murray-Inslee Process from the beginning by encouraging a scientific approach
on the necessary context and scope of the analysis to be performed. The
organizations also provided substantive inputs and data on the contributions and
value of the lower Snake River dams.

“Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge we face. Any serious
analysis must be centered on whether an action moves us closer to or further
away from our emissions goals. Unfortunately, when it comes to properly valuing
the Snake River dams in combating climate change, the Murray-Inslee Draft
Report doesn’t pass the test.” said Kurt Miller, executive director, Northwest

“The most fundamental flaw of the draft report is the failure to recognize there is
no practical way to replace the clean hydroelectric power generated by the dams
on the lower Snake River and still meet our region’s carbon reduction timelines.

In the foreseeable future, without the dams we would have two choices, accept
regular blackouts that would risk lives or burn fossil fuels as a replacement, and
all at a higher cost for every consumer in the region,” Miller continued.

To sum it up: Nearly 90% of the region’s renewable energy comes from
hydropower. The lower Snake River dams help our region meet its climate goals
which are critical to salmon recovery efforts. They keep the cost of power at a
reasonable level for our most vulnerable populations and ensure reliable power
supply by filling in the gaps for wind and solar generation at a time we are
experiencing unprecedented change to the West Coast grid.

Throughout the process, Northwest RiverPartners and its members shared
concerns that without an appropriate framework, policymakers, and the public
could be left with an uninformed view of the real world, negative consequences of
dam removal. While the draft report recognizes the insurmountable costs and
harms that would be caused by dam breaching, many of the fears about the
potential deficiencies of the approach to this analysis have been realized.

While this draft report makes clear that issues around climate, clean energy,
cost, reliability, and salmon recovery are complicated, it fails to set reasonable
legitimacy standards for information it relies upon. As a result, back-of-the-napkin
estimates are assigned the same weight as NEPA compliant environmental
analyses. That has resulted in a report that underweights the impacts of losing
the lower Snake River dams.

“Oregon and Washington have a math problem. For the grid to work, we need a
strong base of generation that is available 24×7–the kind the lower Snake River
dams provide, but wind and solar cannot. As we remove coal and natural gas
generation to fight climate change and seek to electrify ever-increasing amounts
of our economy, hydropower will become even more important in maintaining an
affordable and reliable power grid,” said Libby Calnon, general manager, Hood
River Electric Cooperative.

The dams on the lower Snake River have shown that healthy salmon and dams
can coexist. They also help our region meet climate goals in the future. Analyses
by federal scientists in charge of salmon recovery efforts have concluded that the
biggest threats to salmon survival are from the effects of climate change on
ocean conditions. At best, this report undervalues the impacts of climate change
on salmon survival; at worst it willfully ignores them.

“The Murray-Inslee draft report ignores the most recent National Environmental
Policy Act-compliant federal study warning of the consequences of losing the
lower Snake River dams, especially regarding the resulting increase in
greenhouse gas emissions caused by the near-term requirement to replace the
reliability of the dams with fossil fuel derived energy.” said Kristin Masteller,
general manager, Mason PUD 1. “Thanks to major upgrades in fish passage
facilities, fish survival rates through the Snake River dams is between 95% –
98%. Unfortunately, the report undervalues both the demonstrable progress
made by Snake River Fall Chinook and Steelhead and the impacts of climate
change on their long term survival.”

There is also no replacement for the 48,000 acres of productive farmland that
would be lost if these dams are breached. Nor is there a replacement for an
affordable, low-carbon way to move the agricultural products of family farms to

“My family farm depends on low-cost, efficient transportation to move our wheat
to market to feed people around the world. There simply is no alternative to
barging that can move over 60 percent of Washington’s wheat as safely and
efficiently, and without the lower Snake River dams, barging becomes nonexistent,” said Michelle Hennings, executive director, Washington Association of
Wheat Growers. “As both a farmer and the Executive Director of the Washington
Association of Wheat Growers, I’m concerned about the draft Murray/Inslee
report, which shows a lack of understanding of the practical impacts that
breaching the lower Snake River dams would have on thousands of farmers
across the Pacific Northwest. Increasing our reliance on rail and trucking will only
drive up costs for farmers and consumers, further congest our railroads and
highways, and add harmful emissions to our environment.”


Contact: Aaron Toso, 253-495-1296,

About Northwest RiverPartners

Northwest RiverPartners (NWRP) is a not-for-profit, member-driven organization.
We represent not-for-profit, community-owned utilities across Washington,
Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada. We also proudly represent
farmers, ports, and businesses across the region that support clean energy and
low-carbon transportation.
NWRP is focused on raising awareness about how the Northwest’s hydropower
system betters communities and the natural environment, and we encourage
science-based solutions that help hydropower and salmon coexist and