The heads of seven major environmental groups today called on the White House to "revisit and substantially improve" Bush administration salmon and dam management policies on the Snake and Columbia rivers. The letter calls for the Obama administration to consider major changes to federal dam management and river operations "up to and including removal of the four lower Snake River dams."
The letter, addressed to Nancy Sutley, the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is signed by the presidents or executive directors of American Rivers, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, the Endangered Species Coalition, Friends of the Earth, National Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club.
"The region is in need of an honest broker on Snake and Columbia salmon issues, and the Obama administration is well-positioned to play that role," said Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice. "We are more than willing to talk about solutions if all credible options are on the table."
The letter notes that removing the dams is compatible with efforts to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and that Snake River fish are well-positioned to thrive in the face of the warming that is already unavoidable.
"The new administration has an opportunity to help all stakeholders identify a solution that works for local communities, economies, and the environment," said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. "And restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River, which for years has been the leading salmon recovery action identified by scientists, must be part of that discussion. We're confident that the lower Snake River dams can be removed and their benefits replaced in a way that works for farms and fish, and that is part of creating a sound energy policy and a stronger economy."
"Addressing the bottleneck caused by the lower Snake River dams is the best way to help Snake River salmon survive global warming,"said Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "Fortunately, we can restore salmon and still meet the regions carbon reduction goals by replacing energy from these dams with affordable alternatives."
A new report by the NW Energy Coalition, the Sierra Club, and the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition called Bright Future details how the Northwest can meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals while also replacing the relatively minor amount of electricity produced by the four lower Snake River dams.
Management of the Snake and Columbia rivers and their dams has been the subject of long-running litigation, which is currently before Judge James Redden of the U.S. District Court for Oregon in Portland. Judge Redden has encouraged the parties to the litigation to agree to discuss improving the Bush administration salmon plan, which could at least temporarily negate the need for him to rule on the case.
Read the letter (PDF)
Todd True or Steve Mashuda, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340
Amy Kober, American Rivers, (206) 213-0330, ext. 23