A federal review has rejected the proposal by activist groups to breach dams on the Columbia River. The multi-year environmental impact survey (EIS) conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation recommends responsible management of dams, including hydroelectric facilities, along the Columbia River.
Supporters of clean energy and farmers were especially pleased to discover that the report does not recommend breaching the dams, an idea that has been floated by some activist groups.
According to a press release from the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA):
“We are pleased to see the agencies support a preferred alternative that balances clean hydropower, efficient navigation, and critical water supplies with ongoing salmon recovery efforts,” said Pacific Northwest Waterways Association Executive Director Kristin Meira. “The Columbia and Snake Rivers mean many things to many people in our region, and that includes the role they play as a significant transportation network for freight, the cruise industry and much more,” said Meira.
Residents and businesses in the inland Northwest enjoy some of the least expensive electricity in the country, largely thanks to the cheap and renewable power produced by the region’s many hydroelectric facilities.
The agencies found that “dams are critical infrastructure that Northwest communities depend on for low carbon hydropower and efficient river navigation,” according to the press release.
If the dams were breached, farmers would need to find a new way to get goods to port and market. 38,966 rail cars or 149,870 trucks would have been needed to move the cargo that was barged on the Snake River in 2018 alone.
The full environmental impact statement can be found on the Army Corps of Engineers website.