The Herald’s editorial board and readers should consider these facts about the Lower Snake River dams, drawn from official government sources.
Freight transport through the dams has declined steadily for 20 years. Most shippers (lumber, logs, paper, pulse) have abandoned the waterway. Even grain volume declined 40 percent from 1995 to 2014.
The dams produce less than 4 percent of the energy in the Northwest power grid, and only 6.5 percent of all Northwest hydropower. Wind energy now produces nearly 3 times the energy of all the dams combined.
When compared with Idaho’s other five economic regions, the region with “Idaho’s only Seaport” has shown the state’s weakest growth in jobs, labor force, population and private sector employers. For example, during 1994-2014 Idaho’s job growth was 39.8 percent, but just 6.1 percent for north central Idaho.
Every barge load of wheat leaving Idaho includes a taxpayer subsidy of at least $26,500 just for sediment management and lock maintenance and operations — not including major lock rehabilitation, dam maintenance or fish mitigation. Wheat barges float on a river of taxpayer and ratepayer money.
I grew up in Lewiston. I’ve been observing dams’ destruction of the fish runs and ecosystems on the Clearwater and Snake rivers for 50 years.
Linwood Laughy, Kooskia, Idaho