On Nov. 16, I attended a public meeting in Lewiston designed to provide my input about how to balance salmon runs and dams. Federal agencies conducting the meeting didn’t mention the meeting was court-ordered to find ways to modify federal Snake/Columbia dams to restore Idaho’s wild salmon runs and make changes to meet water quality standards. As a businessman, I also noticed that the feds didn’t talk about the massive taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies required to support four Washington State dams.
The cost of maintaining the four lower Snake dams and the barge waterway is disturbing. Every barge leaving the Port of Lewiston is subsidized with $20,000 from federal taxpayer and Lewiston and Nez Perce County property taxpayers contribute almost $500,000 annually to support the Port, despite a promise in 1975 that the Port would be self-sustaining in five years. Meanwhile, consider spending for salmon projects: BPA and the Army Corps have spent $15 billion on poorly focused, salmon recovery efforts that ignore the real problem — too many dams. It’s far cheaper long term to remove the four unnecessary dams.
We don’t need the power from these four dams, as energy efficiency and conservation have replaced five times their output. These dams are simply obsolete, and further spending to patch them together is dumb. Businessmen know that spending only makes sense when it solves problems.
Steve Jones, McCall