Lower Snake Dam Removal Will Save Taxpayers Billions of Dollars and Boost Regional Economy
Submitted by Ted Williams on Thu, 11/16/2006 - 11:17.
New analysis shows energy, transportation and irrigation benefits can be replaced cost-effectively as part of salmon recovery plan November 15, 2006 Contact: Michael Garrity, American Rivers, 206-213-0330 x11 or cell (206) 852-5583 TO READ THE REPORT, VISIT http://www.americanrivers.org/revenuestream (PDF) (Washington, DC) Removing four dams on the lower Snake River in Washington state will save U.S. taxpayers and Northwest electricity consumers billions of dollars, according to a study released today by a coalition of taxpayer, business and conservation groups. The study, entitled Revenue Stream, examines the economic impact of dam removal and salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to taxpayer savings of up to $5 billion, the study finds that increased tourism, new outdoor recreation, and improved sport and commercial fishing opportunities could generate more than $20 billion in revenue for the region. “The bottom line is clear,” said David Jenkins, government affairs director for Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP). “The financial cost of maintaining and operating these dams far outweighs their benefits. It will be cheaper for taxpayers and better for utility ratepayers to remove these dams and replace their current benefits than to continue funding the status quo.” Using the best and most recent available information, Revenue Stream presents a side-by-side comparison of the federal expenses of maintaining and operating the dams versus the costs of removing the dams and replacing their benefits. The conclusion: With a bottom line savings of up to $5 billion, removing the four lower Snake River dams is a smart investment that will return significant dividends to the nation and the Northwest, through savings to taxpayers and increased economic benefits from new and restored industries. "This report makes it clear that dam removal is a cost-effective option to restore the nation's Columbia and Snake River salmon and must be considered,” said Steve Ellis, vice president for programs at Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Taxpayers cannot afford to continue to foot the bill for the expensive failures of the status quo. If the federal government continues to ignore real solutions like dam removal, taxpayers will forced to pay again by shouldering the massive costs of extinction." Two decades of failed federal salmon recovery efforts have already cost taxpayers and Northwest utility ratepayers nearly $7 billion. Revenue Stream shows that maintaining and operating these four dams will continue to cost hundreds of millions of dollars every year while pushing wild salmon and steelhead closer to extinction; the report estimates that it will cost taxpayers another $9 billion just to keep these four outdated dams operating for the next decade. “Electric ratepayers keep paying and paying for measures that can’t possibly restore threatened and endangered Columbia Basin fish or help those living, working and doing business in salmon-dependent communities,” said Sara Patton, executive director of NW Energy Coalition, a regional clean-energy and consumer-protection alliance. “New jobs and economic development will more than compensate for the modest expense of removing these four dams and replacing their limited energy production with energy efficiency and affordable new renewable power.” Revenue Stream shows that the limited energy, transportation and irrigation benefits the lower Snake River dams now provide in the Northwest can be efficiently and cost-effectively replaced, ensuring that inland communities and farmers will continue to prosper while creating new sustainable business opportunities that will benefit the whole region. Specifically, the report shows that removal of the four lower Snake River dams and subsequent recovery of Snake River salmon populations would be a boon for fishing and outdoor recreation industries in the West. Representing a nearly five-fold increase in commercial fishing, sport fishing and recreational opportunities in the Columbia Basin and five Pacific states California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska revenues could reach $20 billion over the next two decades. “The numbers are very powerful,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), which represents commercial fishermen in Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska. “Revenue Stream makes clear in dollars and sense that fiscal responsibility compels our elected leaders to include dam removal in a scientifically sound and economically beneficial recovery plan for Columbia and Snake River salmon.” Revenue Stream was researched and prepared by staff of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Save Our Wild Salmon, REP, PCFFA, the Institute for Fisheries Research, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, NW Energy Coalition and American Rivers. # Amy Kober Northwest Outreach & Communications Director American Rivers 4005 20th Ave West, Suite 221 Seattle, WA 98199 206-213-0330 x23 www.AmericanRivers.org American Rivers protects and restores healthy natural rivers for the benefit of people, fish, and wildlife.