Opinion: Salmon and dams prosper in harmony

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill discusses the effort by Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray to remove the Snake River dams

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill discusses the effort by Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray to remove the Snake River dams

Nancy Churchill
Dangerous Rhetoric

Washington salmon fishermen are practically giddy with excitement over the massive sockeye salmon return this year. We are having the “biggest Columbia River Sockeye Return since 1938.” The sockeye numbers are exciting, and signal a monumental victory that all environmentalists, tribal leaders, hatchery managers, and dam managers should be celebrating. By working together, these groups appear to be making great progress in salmon recovery.

Nancy Churchill
Nancy Churchill

Where’s the celebration? 

You’re not going to see any celebration about salmon recovery among the state’s Democrats. That would spoil the narrative. They like to pretend the salmon are on the verge of extinction, and the only way to save them is to remove the four Lower Snake River dams. Governor Inslee and Senator Murray spent a lot of money to create a report that claims the best way to save the salmon is to destroy the dams. The Washington State Democrats voted to make dam removal a platform plank. Our state democrats are “all in” on the destruction of a huge taxpayer-created asset. 

The Biden Administration also released two reports to try and influence the debate over breaching the four dams. One report stated, “The short-term outlook for most interior Columbia stocks is grim.” That’s hilarious. Someone should take those guys out salmon fishing this year. 

Big Government means big money 

What would have to happen if the federal and state governments agreed to remove the four Snake River dams? A massive taxpayer-funded project would begin. It would require a big bureaucracy that would be largely unaccountable to the voters. 

The Inslee-Murray report states “Replacing the services provided by the dams could range in cost from $10.3 billion to $27.2 billion, and anticipated costs are still not available for several necessary actions.” Billions and billions of tax dollars … and some “anticipated costs” are not available. That’s the equivalent of asking for a blank check for the eco-power grabbers. 

Then the report describes the real goal (emphasis mine): “Governance structures will be needed to support consultation and collaboration … All of this must be sustained with funding and attention through the years that will be needed to carry out the actions before the dams could be breached.” 

This massive project would suck up an endless stream of tax dollars, which could then be funneled into the pockets of political cronies who would create the “alternate energy power generation” necessary to replace the lost hydropower. Like most government projects, there would be lots of opportunity for waste, corruption, and fraud. The taxpayers would pay and pay and pay, and all the piggies sucking at the government teat would enrich themselves at our expense. 

Environmental Trojan Horses 

Would removing the Lower Snake River Dams help the salmon, the environment, or the economy? The power hungry elites driving the deal forward don’t actually care. These topics are just the Trojan horses they use to campaign for the ability to “fundamentally transform” our economy and our way of life. This proposed project is a power-and-money grab for the elites. 

The dam removal project isn’t about helping salmon, because we can see that our current salmon recovery efforts appear to be working. Dam investments have resulted in improved fish returns and a 25-year sustained increase in salmon populations. Additionally, juvenile fish survival rates past each of the eight federal dams are between 95 percent and 98 percent. 

Dam removal is NOT about improving decarbonization, because the four dams together provide enough clean energy to power 1.87 million homes. It would take three nuclear, six coal-fired or 14 gas-fired power plants to replace the dams’ peaking capacity, according to Jack Heffling, president of the United Power Trades Organization. 

In fact, a new study found that breaching the Snake River Dams would derail decarbonization goals due to loss of barge transportation! Replacing efficient and environmentally friendly barges would require a massive increase in trucking that would create more pollution, not less. If the enviro-power grabbers really wanted “green” energy and “green” transportation, they’d be fighting to preserve the dams. 

Then there’s the impact on irrigation: “The 2020 CRSO EIS estimates that irrigated agriculture supported by the LSRD contributes $232 million in labor income and $460 million in sales.” The only way dam breaching makes sense, is if the end goal is to have the power to control the use of the land and to destroy rural agriculture. 

Celebrate salmon and fight for the Lower Snake River dams 

Mitigation efforts to save the salmon appear to be working! We need to trumpet this from the rooftops. The battle over the dams is going to continue for years, back and forth between the federal government which “owns” the dams, and the state enviro-power grabbers who want to control our entire state economy. To protect the dams, talk about the fabulous salmon returns, and elect Republicans at every level of government. 

Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own. 

Also read:

Receive comment notifications
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x