What makes Idaho the state we are proud to call home? To me, it’s our shared goal of making Idaho the best place to live, to work, and to raise a family. That’s why I’m always troubled by renewed attempts to breach dams that Idahoans rely on.
The latest push comes from Washington state, where Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D) are calling to remove four dams on the Snake River. Together, Gov. Inslee and Sen. Murray published a new report that tries to justify a $27.2 BILLION plan to breach the Snake River dams to restore salmon and steelhead populations. However, as is often the case with Washington state politics, the pros do not outweigh the cons.
As a fourth-generation Idaho rancher, I know the challenges and necessary measures needed to run a successful business in this day and age. Additionally, a major priority in my public and private careers has revolved around protecting Idaho’s water. It’s clear to me that Gov. Inslee and Sen. Murray either failed to work with key stakeholders or ignored their opinion on this project. Stakeholders who would most certainly bear the brunt of devastating impacts; including, but not limited to, the following possibilities:
• 48,000 acres of farmland across the Northwest would lose dam irrigation
• Utilities could skyrocket in cost due to the loss of hydroelectricity
• The power grid would become unstable, likely doubling the chance of blackouts
• Food costs would rise from the increase in trucking costs
• The supply chain would worsen due to the severe shortage of skilled truck drivers
Now, we move to the flaws in the central reasoning of their proposal: salmon and steelhead restoration. As I responded to a similar dam breaching proposal in 2021, why is there no discussion about controlling predator populations at the mouth of the Columbia River? These predators, as shown in studies, kill 35 percent of adult salmon that are heading back to Idaho. This comes on top of the number of salmon lost during migration toward the Pacific Ocean. Not only does the Inslee/Murray plan fail to address this issue, but it offers no guarantee of increased salmon population through dam removal.https://74b19d6d0e60f1ba1a73e478e4dbd9c4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Here in Idaho, we believe in kitchen table economics. It’s simple, but more importantly, it makes sense. While salmon restoration is a noble cause, the Inslee/Murray plan of $27.2 billion doesn’t add up. Under the Inslee/Murray plan, one of Idaho’s most precious resources — water — would be threatened, leading to a lot less food in the pantry, fewer people on the job, and higher prices across the board. Dam breaching is bad for Idaho and if we don’t fight for our dams and protect our water, we’ll most certainly lose a lot of what makes Idaho the state we’re proud to call home.