A draft report, commissioned by Senator Patty Murray and Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state, on what would be required to replace the benefits of the lower Snake River dams has renewed concerns over the cost and logistics of breaching the dams to prevent the extinction of native salmon. While the report makes no suggestions as to whether or not the dams should be breached, the report does suggest that replacing the hydropower generated by the Snake River dams could cost between $10.3 billion and $27.2 billion. Congressman Simpson’s proposal would cover $33.5 billion for salmon recovery.
The report also lays out the benefits of the dams, including navigability of barges carrying wheat and other crops to ocean ports and bringing inputs from those ports back to Lewiston, provision of irrigation water for farmers, recreation opportunities for locals and tourists, economic development, and mitigation of ecological damage. Breaching the dams would eliminate all commodity barging between the Tri-Cities and Lewiston and Clarkston, raise energy costs for consumers, impact the power grid from Canada to Mexico, and increase carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The public is invited to comment on the report by 5:00pm PT on July 11, 2022.