The Seattle Times article, “Hydropower isn’t carbon neutral after all” (reprinted in Tri City Herald, Oct. 1), gives the false impression that Northwest dams are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane. They are not.
According to the Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE), methane gas production produced by dams depends on many factors including location, water temperature, river flow, depth, nutrient concentration, plant growth, climate and the process that uses dissolved oxygen.
USCOE goes on to say, “For the relatively clean reservoirs of the Federal Columbia River Power System, which include the four lower Snake River dams, conditions for low dissolved oxygen concentrations are not prevalent, thus methane gas is generally not an issue.”
In fact, abundant hydropower is the primary reason why the Northwest’s carbon footprint is half of other parts of the country. Hydropower accounts for nearly 60 percent of the Northwest’s energy mix.
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These dams provide tremendous environmental and economic benefits for families and businesses—and no measurable amounts of methane gas.
With the challenges of new carbon reduction policies and more being proposed, it is imperative the true cause of carbon emissions in the Northwest and the dams are not falsely portrayed.
Lori Sanders, Benton PUD Commissioner, Kennewick