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Entries in hydropower (1)


Retired Judge Says Dams Should Be Taken Down to Save Salmon

Ice Harbor, one of the dams on the Lower Snake that Judge James Redden says should be destroyed.

Over the decades we’ve spent billions of dollars trying to “save” Northwest salmon runs that were blocked when dams were constructed on the Columbia and other rivers to provide hydropower and water for agriculture.

And we’ve spent that money on all kinds of gimmicks and schemes, knowing that we were not addressing the real problem--- the dams.

Now a federal judge who knows as much about the issue as anyone has stepped down. Before his retirement, he listened to hundreds of hours of testimony and poured over thousands of pages and legal briefs and scientific research, as he rendered judgments pertaining to this and other topics related to the Endangered Species Act.

What does retired U.S. District Judge James Redden say now?

“I think we need to take those dams down . . . And I’ve never ordered them, you know, or tried to order them that you’ve gotta take those dams down. But I have urged them to do some work on those dams . . . and they have.”

The dams that he is speaking of are four on the Lower Snake River.

His comments came from an interview with EarthFix journalist Aaron Kunz for a documentary that he’s preparing for Idaho Public Television. Read more here.

In response to Redden’s comments, Terry Flores of Northwest RiverPartners said this:

“These four dams produce 1,100 megawatts of clean, renewable energy --- enough to power the city of Seattle. And, the dams allow farmers to produce and ship food that feeds the Northwest and the world.”

They’re both right, of course. The question is what do we want more: To do what’s really needed to save the salmon or continued hydropower and water supply for agriculture from the dams?