A bold proposal to remove four dams on the lower Snake River to aid in salmon recovery has been set forth by an Idaho congressman.
The proposal by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, would include more than $33 billion to remove the dams, replace infrastructure for shipping and the electrical grid, and include monies for communities served by the dams. He has been joined in this effort by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon.
The proposal addresses a long-standing controversy over the four hydroelectric dams, which have been blamed for driving many runs of endangered salmon and steelhead stocks to near extinction. The federal dams have been a source of continuous legal battles over the past three decades.
Simpson’s proposal is expensive, but he points to the billions already spent to recover fish runs that continue to decline.
The arguments have pitted anglers and commercial fishing interests, as well as the industries that support them, against the interests of farmers, power companies, and transportation companies that rely on the dams. It has also pitted lower Columbia communities that rely on fisheries dollars against upper basin communities that depend on the dams economically.