Northwest RiverPartners Response to Governor Inslee Statement on Lower Snake River Dams
Hydropower Group Urges Governor to Support Existing Hydropower Projects to Fight Climate Change, Protect Salmon; Calls For Consistent Decarbonization Policies To Address Oceanic Threat To Salmon
Yesterday, at a meeting hosted by a political advocacy group, Washington
Governor Jay Inslee announced he intends to work with Senator Patty Murray in
a stakeholder process that examines replacing the services provided by the
lower Snake River dams and to have the process completed by next summer.
Inslee stressed he hasn’t decided the dams should be breached (i.e., removed).
He also noted the extreme danger that the warming, acidifying ocean represents
to salmon populations and stressed the need to fight climate change to reverse
this existential oceanic threat.
Interestingly, Governor Inslee went on to criticize litigation efforts aimed at
nullifying Washington’s Clean Fuels legislation. Given the context of climate
change, the Governor stated it just doesn’t make sense to take a step back in the
state’s decarbonization efforts, especially for salmon.
The Governor’s statement seems particularly at odds with his willingness to
examine breaching four highly productive, carbon-free hydroelectric dams, given
that breaching the dams would also significantly set back the region’s
We are not in a situation where we have ample renewable resources. The UN’s
Code Red for humanity makes it clear we are behind in our decarbonization
goals as a country and a planet. With this knowledge, it is difficult to justify talk of
removing carbon-free generation while we still have a significant portion of
electricity generated by fossil fuels.
We support the values Governor Inslee promotes, including the criticality of
fighting the climate crisis and recovering healthy salmon populations for Tribal
Nations. However, given the political context of his announcement, it seems
highly unlikely this new process could conclude in a way that recommends the
lower Snake dams remain in place.
Importantly, in 2020, the federal government completed a $40 million, multi-year
analysis with consultations by states and Tribal entities and input from the public.
The conclusion of that extensive study was that breaching the dams is not in the
best interest of society from a climate, cost, and grid reliability perspective,
especially given the highly uncertain benefits for salmon.
Northwest RiverPartners has already committed to being part of the solution for
salmon, and we will continue our science-backed advocacy efforts in support of
the lower Snake River dams and the critical role they play in fighting climate
change and ensuring the safety and health of everyone in the Pacific Northwest.
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
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