Editorial: Latest anti-dam study is ‘unscientific and inaccurate.’ It belongs in the trash

The latest anti-dam study to come out of the west side of the state is so flawed it should not be taken seriously.

Trouble is, it likely will be by those who love its message.

They will focus on the findings — which say the benefits of removing the four lower Snake River dams exceed the costs — and ignore the bias and bad data that was used to justify those findings.

A barrage of counter arguments by various dam supporters blasted the study within days of its release, and those must continue if the report is to be completely discredited.

Opposition to the report has come from the Washington Policy Center, Northwest River Partners, the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association and other groups.

The privately funded “study” was done in Seattle by ECONorthwest for another Seattle-based company, Vulcan, Inc., which oversees the business and philanthropic interests of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

It’s telling that the authors of the report acknowledge they are not experts, and that they did not independently verify the accuracy of all the information they used.

They also admit that, “Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute the authors’ current opinions, which may change as more information becomes available.”

This “study” is actually a promotional tool to be used to take down the Snake River dams, which might explain at least one outrageous idea suggested by the writers.

They propose that farmers and other economic “losers” from dam removal could instead get new jobs as dam-busters.

Obviously, they have no idea what the agricultural industry is all about.

Farming is not just a way to make a living — it is in the blood.

Recommending that people who love the land could easily switch to working on a demolition crew reveals a complete ignorance of what it means to be a farmer.

Reps. Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, both R-Wash., came out hard against the report, saying, “This privately funded study is a slap in the face of our state’s agricultural economy. It is another example of Seattle-based interests failing to understand our way of life in Central and Eastern Washington.”

The Pacific Northwest Waterways Association — a coalition of Northwest wheat farmers, towboat companies and others — said the report admits carbon emissions would increase if the dams were removed, but glosses over the impact.

Todd Myers, of the Washington Policy Center, called the report unscientific and inaccurate, and pointed to slanted survey language used to justify that people would be willing pay higher electric rates to save salmon.

And Darryll Olsen, of the Irrigators Association, said the study inflames the dam-breaching debate, and his group is calling for federal officials to invoke an Endangered Species Act Exemption, which would end the escalation of requirements to protect Columbia and Snake river fish runs.

It’s a drastic move, but it’s looking like a card that may need to be played, especially if anti-dam efforts are going to use incomplete and unreliable data to push their agenda.