Dams defense falls flat

At the Nov. 16 Latah County Salmon and Dams Panel, David Doeringsfeld from the Port of Lewiston said he believes that the biggest culprit for the decline of Northwest salmon is climate change.

It is true that climate change is warming the Snake River Basin, stressing salmon populations especially in the fall as they make the 900-mile journey back to Idaho. However, due to its elevation, the Snake River is home to one of the most climate-change-resilient ecosystems in the country. Doeringsfeld neglected to mention that, if not for the four lower Snake River dams, the free-flowing river would be well below the temperature threshold for salmon survival even on the hottest of days.

Doeringsfeld’s argument hinged on the idea that hydropower is clean energy. It’s true that dams are better than coal and oil. However, the four lower Snake River dams are not carbon-free. The methane released as the slow-moving water behind the dams warms has the global warming equivalent of 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

The dams can be breached and replaced with real clean energy , such as solar and wind, saving ratepayers and farmers money and reversing the effects of climate change on Idaho’s wild salmon and steelhead.

Congressman Mike Simpson has a science-based plan, and I urge readers to call their elected officials and urge them to support it.

Shiva Rajbhandari