the film
forum
library
tutorial
contact
Commentaries and editorials

Salmon Chat: The Mitigation Plan

Environmental News Network
December 8, 1999

<ENN Chat> Welcome to ENN for the first in a weekly series of live chats on the Snake River salmon issue.
<RedFish BlueFish> First I would like to introduce myself - Scott Levy, raised in the farm land downstream of Yosemite, graduated 1993 UC Berkeley BS Mechanical Engineering, currently living in Ketchum, Idaho.
<RedFish BlueFish> In 1993, I began making the film "RedFish BlueFish" which centers on the plight of Idaho's Salmon and Steelhead. Five years later the film was completed and has aired on public television and has received awards and various film festivals. Video copies of the film can be ordered free of charge but donations are greatly appreciated - www.bluefish.org/video.htm
<RedFish BlueFish> I enjoy participating in the screenings of "RedFish BlueFish" as a lively discussion usually follows. I try to listen a lot and I have learned many points of view about this important topic. My chat name, "RedFish BlueFish", highlights that my ideas have come from many others that have contributed to the ideas and imagery expressed in the film.
<RedFish BlueFish> Hello Dick. How did you get involved in Idaho's salmon issue?
<Dick Dahlgren> Hypothesis. The federal government will provide money to mitigate ALL negative impacts from dam breaching.
<RedFish BlueFish> During today's chat, I have prepared some suggestions based on what I have learned from talking to many people. I invite you to discuss and criticize these ideas, I will try not take your criticisms personally. The goal is for all of us to discuss our ideas and opinions, to establish a dialogue, and to listen to each others concerns.
<Dick Dahlgren> As an avid steelheader watching the fish numbers decline.
<RedFish BlueFish> Sounds like a reasonable hypothesis: Can we mitigate ALL of the economic impacts of dam breaching.
<RedFish BlueFish> Shall we begin by assuming that the 4 lower Snake River Dams are mothballed to allow a free flowing river to the 139 miles between Lewiston, Idaho and Pasco (Tri-Cities), Washington. If and when this is done, who will be negatively effected? It is in everyone's best interest that when restoring an endangered species, no economic affect is felt by anyone. This is also my understanding of the Endangered Species Act: the primary law that is calling for the recovery of Idaho's wild Salmon and Steelhead.
<Dick Dahlgren> I believe we can, from the minimum wage guy to top level executives at Potlatch
<RedFish BlueFish> What are the concerns of Potlatch? What do they make and why do they need the current reservoir system?
<Dick Dahlgren> I agree Redfish. No one should suffer or it is not an acceptable plan.
<RedFish BlueFish> The most vocal beneficiaries of the current system are Wheat Growers and shippers that transport their wheat by barge 465-miles to export terminals in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington.
<RedFish BlueFish> Rail lines parallel to the 139-miles of Snake River could handle the 5 million tons of grain shipped annually down this corridor. Currently, barge operators charge about 1.48 per ton for this 139-mile journey (www.bluefish.org/bargrate.htm). Think about that - 1.48 per ton! The true cost is much higher, about $14 per ton (Oregon Natural Resource Council). Barge operators are not charged for the dredging of the channel, maintenance of the locks, employment of the lock operator, or power lost due to water going through the locks and not the power generating system.
<RedFish BlueFish> The rail lines parallel to the Snake River charge rates comparable to the barge rates. If the rail lines were subsidized at a fraction of the current barge subsidy, rail rates IDENTICAL to the current barge rates could be established.
<Dick Dahlgren> Potlatch has an effluent discharge problem. One of the main factors is the discharge material, 40 million gallons per day, enters the Snake at 92 degrees, EPA allows 68 degree temps.
<RedFish BlueFish> As I understand the folks at the EPA, Lewiston's Potlatch will need to do something about the temperature problem regardless of the breach or no-breach decision.
<Dick Dahlgren> That's the idea. Make a list. New Rail system for shippers. New cooling system for Potlatch. Extended pumping lines into the river for irrigators. Etc. Etc. The Feds will pay the fix-it bill.
<Dick Dahlgren> How 'bout the out-of-work worker in the area?
<RedFish BlueFish> A few years back, Potlatch Lewiston was Idaho's largest polluter according to their Toxic Release Inventory. 1997 and 1994 data are posted at www.bluefish.org/epatri97.htm and www.bluefish.org/epatri94.htm. Also some notes from Reed Burkholder at www.bluefish.org/triformr.htm

<ENN Chat> Thanks for the sites Red fish - I will make those active in the transcript. Could you remember though, that all of the URL's breaks up the conversation?
<RedFish BlueFish> Sorry about that.
<ENN Chat> Dick: Do you think there is federal support for the efforts you are promoting?
<Dick Dahlgren> An idea. All workers should be given a choice of (1) monthly retirement income, or (2) a lump sum payment. Either would be based upon their last years income.
<RedFish BlueFish> Hi Tom, I am glad you could make it. Your points of view are very important in this discussion.
<ENN Chat> Tom: I just checked out your website - looks like you certainly have a point of view.... Could you raise some of those points?
<RedFish BlueFish> If rates were IDENTICAL to the current system, no economic effect would be felt by anyone that uses this corridor for shipping goods to market. Wheat Growers, Cooperatives, Potlatch, please speak up and comment. Your input is imperative.
<Tom Flint> Folks you are only focusing on on part of the issue. There are a multitude of public benefits that need to be included in this discussion.
<Dick Dahlgren> The feds will support any idea. There are billions of dollars to do the fix.
<RedFish BlueFish> Tom: Okay, I will try to hurry along.
<RedFish BlueFish> Barge operators, however, would be impacted. They would still be active in the Columbia system and would likely participate in shipping grain that would be trucked to the Tri-Cities area. The truck to barge vs. rail scenario is considered in Dr. Edward Dickey's "Transportation Transition Plan" (www.bluefish.org/dickey.htm)
<Dick Dahlgren> Tom. What are a few other public benefit concerns?
<ENN Chat> Hi Stan - glad you could make it over, sorry about the miscue...
<Tom Flint> You bring up irrigation, the reservoirs are needed for public water supplies as well as irrigation . I an a low water year in a natural river there is not enough water to maintain stream flow
<RedFish BlueFish> Concern over availability of train cars is valid. Washington State owns 29 lime-green "Grain Trains" discussed in Wall Street Journal's "Rail Gamble Pays Off" (www.bluefish.org/railpays.htm) An extension of this system could possibly insure car availability and capacity for grain shippers during peak shipping times.
<RedFish BlueFish> Tom: What is your experience with the Grain Train? I have only read about it but not heard much from the farmers perspective.
<Dick Dahlgren> Low water flows could be addressed by the appropriate agencies and be balanced.
<RedFish BlueFish> Over 2000 miles of rail branch lines into the Palouse towns that once handled grain traffic have been abandoned and dismantled. These towns were once thriving as grain handlers before the barges began receiving financial assistance. Perhaps restoring some of these right of ways would be worthwhile.
<RedFish BlueFish> Traveling through the Palouse is a beautiful experience. One can't help but wonder if an economic revival is just around the corner. Perhaps an equitable solution will refurbish some of these modern day ghost towns.
<Dick Dahlgren> Redfish. I understand the aluminum industry, eleven co's, receive power at only 50% of cost, the rest subsidized. How can they be mitigated?
<RedFish BlueFish> Unfortunately we are left with the choir. The salmon need us humans to get together and talk about solutions. Why can't we get together and chat?
<RedFish BlueFish> Okay, let's move on to power consumers.
<RedFish BlueFish> Power Generation: the four Lower Snake Dams provide same power capacity as the John Day Dam (downstream on the Columbia River) which was built at the same cost as each Lower Snake Dam. 2-4% of the Pacific Northwest electricity comes from these 4 dams, power easily replaced by conservation.
<ENN Chat> Stan: What is your take on the relicensing issue?
<RedFish BlueFish> - Conserve through lighting improvements. Lighting consumes 1/4 of nation's electricity. The Pacific Northwest's SURPLUS of electricity yields the lowest cost of electricity in the nation. Compact fluorescent provide light at 20% of the energy. New buildings should install efficient lighting.
<RedFish BlueFish> - Conserve by charging for transmission loss to distant customers rather than penalizing nearby customers. The BPA transmission system loses 1.8-1.9% of its energy through resistance, an amount on the order of what the four Lower Snake Dams provide. A load at twice the distance has twice the power lost. During high power consumption times, doubling the load, doubles the power lost. Prices should reflect reality so that economics can affect consumption.
<ENN Chat> Redfish: that sounds like a complicated endeavor...
<RedFish BlueFish> - Conserve through reduced production of aluminum which is currently in oversupply.
<RedFish BlueFish> - Conserve through reduced production of aluminum which is currently in oversupply. Aluminum laborers please comment. Retraining and financial support of displaced aluminum workers would be paramount. Aluminum production consumes about 1/4 of the BPA power provided from 29 federal dams. It takes about 1 kwh (about 2 cents) to make a "six-pack" of aluminum can. The same amount of power could recycle 20 times as much. Twenty times the efficiency! The purpose of recycling our aluminum cans is for efficiency and protection of the environment. Isn't it?
<RedFish BlueFish> Which Part seems complicated?
<Dick Dahlgren> I understand that Idaho Power is producing fuel cells for homes through a subsidiary in Bend Oregon. The KWH cost is 10 cents. It's a start.
<ENN Chat> Well, making it a Federal law to improve lighting efficiency would have quite a few hurdles.
<Dick Dahlgren> Is it not true that a survey in the Northwest found power users will to pay an additional 10% to save the salmon?
<Dick Dahlgren> Hey Tom, welcome back! We need your help.
<ENN Chat> I'm not sure Dick - that figure sounds high.... Do you know where we might find that survey?
<RedFish BlueFish> True, a federal law would be an endeavor. I am not suggesting that we shove conservation down people's throats. Education. Teach people what is important. We can not legislate morality.
<Tom Flint> Got disconnected so am trying to catch up
<RedFish BlueFish> I mean how mean people realize that lighting consumes a quarter of this nation's electricity?
<RedFish BlueFish> A fifth of that is to cool the buildings from the heat of inefficient lights (Source: Energy for Planet Earth, Scientific American)
<RedFish BlueFish> Glad to have you back Tom
<Dick Dahlgren> How do we mitigate the 13 irrigators?
<RedFish BlueFish> Perhaps a Kaiser plant in Tacoma or Spokane could be removed from the "special deal" rate system provided to aluminum producers. Some of the displaced workers could be employed at a new recycling facility that would be given power at the "special deal" rate. BPA is also actively looking for workers to build and maintain transmission lines at wages comparable to current aluminum laborer rates. Aluminum plants are major polluters and contribute substantially to greenhouse gases. It is my understanding that aluminum workers don't necessarily love their job or even like their employer, however, they do enjoy the good wage ($20-25/hour). This is a bit of brain-storming and hopefully it will spark some discussion.
<Tom Flint> There is a whole environmental air quality issue that has been totally ignored in this issue. Collectively these projects clean the pollution out of the air from all of the cities and vehicles.
<RedFish BlueFish> Irrigated agriculture using water from the 4 lower Snake River dams amounts to 35,000 acres, all near Ice Harbor reservoir. Water is pumped from the top of the full reservoir to cropland 20-560 vertical feet above the surface of the reservoir.
<Dick Dahlgren> What projects are those Tom? That's a new area for me.
<RedFish BlueFish> I am not sure I understand but I am listening.
<Tom Flint> There is not other electrical production that is as efficient or as clean as hydropower. It is 90 percent efficient
<RedFish BlueFish> True. Hydropower is generally considered an efficient way to harvest the sun's energy.
<RedFish BlueFish> Conservation, however, is 100% efficient.
<Dick Dahlgren> The irrigators receive $11,200,000 annually in pumping subsidies now. If the river level is lowered , the pumps are lowered. The Feds pay.
<ENN Chat> Good point Red fish - but what about the long run? No matter how efficient we are, eventually we will need increased power supplies...
<Andrea> Why must there be damns or fish, why not both?
<RedFish BlueFish> That is assuming an increasing population, that demands an increase in electricity. True.
<Tom Flint> When you combine the collective effects of Agriculture, Forestry, Hydropower and Mother Nature and he hydrologic cycle and transpiration. Which cleans everyone's air, as we are paving over America and loosing the Rain forest only these types of multipurpose environmentally productive projects help us today and in the future
<RedFish BlueFish> Good point Tom, I am mostly in agreement.
<Dick Dahlgren> If the 13 farmers want out I understand $134 million (Trout Unlimited's ECONorthwest study)is the starting offer which no doubt could be negotiated higher.
<Tom Flint> You forget that in a low water year that there in not enough water to maintain stream flow in a natural river. A reservoir is a water bank and is also a asset for salmon migration
<RedFish BlueFish> Not so sure about this one though. It seems that the salmon did pretty well before Western Man appeared with his technological ideas.
<RedFish BlueFish> Irrigated agriculture using water from the 4 lower Snake River dams amounts to 35,000 acres, all near Ice Harbor reservoir. Water is pumped from the top of the full reservoir to cropland 20-560 vertical feet above the surface of the reservoir.
<Stan Swaim> Stan How can one consider a reservoir an asset to salmon?
<Dick Dahlgren> Tom. Aren't the dams "run of the river" dams and not capable of storage. In low water years the Feds compensate, as in the CPR farming program.
<RedFish BlueFish> Washington's total cropland is about 6,500,000 acres. The 35,000 irrigated acres which use Ice Harbor water amount to roughly 1/2 of 1% of Washington's total cropland. ( Reed Burkholder: www.bluefish.org/irrigate.htm )
<RedFish BlueFish> A 39-mile canal along the current shore of Ice Harbor reservoir could continue to provide irrigation to the existing pumps at the existing altitude. According to Army Corps reports, roughly 200 cfs of water is needed for about 7 months of the year. To me this sounds doable but a lot of further study is needed. It seems that no economic effect need be felt by these 13 irrigators.
<Tom Flint> That was probably before the commercial fishing began to overharvest. The old timers that were before there were dams will tell you that the salmon died by the 10's of thousand in low water years because they were stranded and there was not enough water to even have stream flow.
<RedFish BlueFish> That is probably true, Tom. Overharvest was very likely the beginning of Western Mans effect on the NW salmon population. It is, however, very unlikely that it is the current problem.
<Tom Flint> efficiency should be considered in this, and is a environmentally right thing to do when we talk about resources. Replacing these pumps will do nothing in a low water year with no stream flow.
<MightyColumbia> 140 miles of river mile wide, with just five feet draw down equals enough storage to keep Portland dry. The now storage folks would have Portland heading for the high ground year after year.
<Dick Dahlgren> Droughts are a natural occurring event in a natural river. We are getting away from mitigation of the problems.
<Tom Flint> However with a reservoir you can help manage the water resources which salmon are, and need this help as well.
<RedFish BlueFish> Columbia: Please don't get me wrong here. I am most definitely NOT advocating any changes to the Columbia River dams. It seems from what I have learned that changes are need on the Snake River only.
<RedFish BlueFish> Flood Control: Snake River Dams are "Run of River" dams, not storage dams and so provide NO flood control. These dams always operate within a few feet of the top to maximize power production.
<Tom Flint> Wrong they were constructed under the government flood act.
<RedFish BlueFish> The Snake Dams do not help keep Portland protected from Flood. The flood of a few years ago was from the Willamette which is several hundred miles away from the Snake River dams.
<MightyColumbia> The dams provide the safest part of the salmon life cycle. 40% of young salmon are lost before they reach the dams. 12% lost while negotiating the dams. Dams provide the safest part of the salmon's life.
<Dick Dahlgren> The four lower Snake reservoirs are not storage facilities nor flood control. These are the only dams in question needed to be breached to bring Idaho's salmon back to where they were before these four were constructed.
<Tom Flint> It is a domino effect and a chain reaction effect with every dam contribution some to the storage of flood water
<RedFish BlueFish> I think we should check on that Tom. Congress, in approving the Snake projects did not list flood control as a benefit. Let me know if you find out otherwise and send it along to me please.
<Tom Flint> It you look at the funding by congress it was a part of flood control that made them eligible for funding
<MightyColumbia> Check your information Red Blue, Spring just a few years ago the Snake River Dams saved Portland long enough to let the Willamette empty into the Columbia. Dams will keep you dry Red Blue. I will work to save your children
<RedFish BlueFish> Actually, if anything the Snake dams add to the risk of flood. If the top one goes, all the water from the next adds to it, there goes the domino effect. Read "Silenced Rivers" by Paddy McCully.
<RedFish BlueFish> This discussion seems to be going well. I hope we can stay on longer please.
<Tom Flint> Just as the old folks about the flood on 1949, and see what they have to say about The Snake River Dams, Has there been a major flood since, no. and the reason is because of the collective storage of these dams.
<ENN Chat> I can keep this room open as long as there is interest. However, after 5, no one else will be able to join.
<RedFish BlueFish> Thanks Columbia, I appreciate the humor. I will keep working as well. I have no children but thanks for the offer.
<Dick Dahlgren> I have researched that very issue. They were not constructed for flood control and have no ability to do so. Reed Burkholder can the fax the documents to you if you wish.
<RedFish BlueFish> I am going to move away from the flood question for now as there other problems that need discussion
<ENN Chat> Dick: Why were they constructed?
<Dick Dahlgren> Once again. Let's play what if the dams are gone. How can your interests be mitigated Tom?
<RedFish BlueFish> As I was early talking about irrigation. What do you guys think about the canal idea?
<Dick Dahlgren> They were constructed for barge traffic, a long coveted dream, as another choice to rail, which held a monopoly. Even the hydro use was second to that.
<MightyColumbia> Red Blue you must not be good at three-dimensional math (volume). 140 miles times mile wide by just 5 of a possible 20 feet deep will buy just enough time to save Portland. The Corps quantities the savings each year.
<Tom Flint> You have to look at the big picture. These project are truly environmentally friendly and a asset to our environment. There is no suitable replacement, mitigation is not the issue.
<Tom Flint> They were built under the Flood Control Act of 1945 ( Public Law 79-14)
<MightyColumbia> The canal idea is a waist of time and money the Snake River is the best environmental solution to many problems including salmon.
<RedFish BlueFish> The primary beneficiary for building the dams was to create an Inland Empire. A dream that has not really found fruition.
<Dick Dahlgren> The endangered species act and the salmon must be dealt with. 200 scientists advise breach. So lets's at least come up with a mitigation plan if that happens. Ask for the moon and the Feds will deliver at all costs.
<Tom Flint> You need to put this in perspective this area is a desert and a wasteland before there was water. Now the desert blooms and now there is habitat for a multitude of species that were never here before.'
<RedFish BlueFish> The main event that caused Congress to appropriate the money for construction, was the Cold War. Nearby, the government's Hanford Nuclear facility need power to work on the Atomic Program.
<Tom Flint> I really think you need to quantify the scientist that you refer to, no social scientist.
<MightyColumbia> Dear Dick, salmon recovery is not rocket science. 70,000 signed a petition to keep the dams in for the good of all.
<Dick Dahlgren> Mighty Columbia. This is Christmas, so to speak. If it comes to breach, what would you like to see in mitigation?
<Tom Flint> Over 80,000 now
<MightyColumbia> Wow!! over 80000
<RedFish BlueFish> Tom: True, the desert now blooms. Most all of that water comes from the Columbia. Here we are in total agreement.
<Dick Dahlgren> We all know who the scientists are. The best and most respected in the country.
<Tom Flint> I might add that these are mainly from rural American Family Farmers and Rural Areas that really understand the issue.
<RedFish BlueFish> When it comes to the Columbia River, I am in your camp Tom, Save Our Dams. There are good dams and bad dams. Let's make improvements where they are necessary.
<Tom Flint> We were doing real good until now. I will leave it alone
<RedFish BlueFish> Shall we move on to Power Generation: the four Lower Snake Dams provide same power capacity as the John Day Dam (downstream on the Columbia River) which was built at the same cost as each Lower Snake Dam. 2-4% of the Pacific Northwest electricity comes from these 4 dams, power easily replaced by conservation.
<MightyColumbia> 200 scientists in the business of salmon recovery - not the business of recovering salmon.
<Tom Flint> The Snake River Dams are probably the most fish friendly dams in the world and you need to realize that.
<RedFish BlueFish> Tom, Leave what alone? All of your comments are worthy. Please continue.
<Tom Flint> It is all in now you look at it. Those dams create enough electricity to power all of Idaho and Montana. Or the city of Seattle. What would you replace that with?
<RedFish BlueFish> Actually fish friendly dams are those that are built off-line. That is not on the main river corridor but in a canyon that does not block migration.
<MightyColumbia> Cost to replace power is more than 290 million each year. Lost benefit to BPA is 200 million each year. Just two of the gorillas of salmon recovery - all without benefit in the name of salmon recovery.
<RedFish BlueFish> - Conserve through lighting improvements. Lighting consumes 1/4 of nation's electricity. The Pacific Northwest's SURPLUS of electricity yields the lowest cost of electricity in the nation. Compact fluorescent provide light at 20% of the energy. New buildings should install efficient lighting.
<Tom Flint> There is more to the irrigation, the lost water flow would effect 350,000 acres of farmland in Idaho.
<RedFish BlueFish> - Conserve by charging for transmission loss to distant customers rather than penalizing nearby customers. The BPA transmission system loses 1.8-1.9% of its energy through resistance, an amount on the order of what the four Lower Snake Dams provide. A load at twice the distance has twice the power lost. During high power consumption times, doubling the load, doubles the power lost. Prices should reflect reality so that economics can affect consumption.
<RedFish BlueFish> - Conserve through reduced production of aluminum which is currently in oversupply. Aluminum laborers please comment. Retraining and financial support of displaced aluminum workers would be paramount. Aluminum production consumes about 1/4 of the BPA power provided from 29 federal dams. It takes about 1 kwh (about 2 cents) to make a "six-pack" of aluminum can. The same amount of power could recycle 20 times as much. Twenty times the efficiency! The purpose of recycling our aluminum cans is for efficiency and protection of the environment. Isn't it?
<MightyColumbia> Lower granite had a tube tag run, which was near zip loss. That is hard to beat without dams.
<RedFish BlueFish> Comments?
<Dick Dahlgren> Idaho gets less than 1% of their power from the Snake dams.
<Tom Flint> Aluminum is the best recyclable medium there is, as it only takes 1/10 the power to recycle as it did to produce. Recycling aluminum is good for everyone and our environment
<RedFish BlueFish> The loss of generating facilities along the lower Snake River would require some additional transmission to be installed. This seems odd at first but here is my attempt at explanation. Consider the current transmission and power grid as a circuit diagram. It has been designed to optimize the current system performance. Changes in this circuit diagram require other changes to maintain reliability and efficiency.
<MightyColumbia> Red Blue, how can 200+ million dollar gross equal 1% of BPA?? Where do you get that stuff??
<RedFish BlueFish> It has also been suggested that a natural gas combustion turbine located near the head of the power line to Southern California (i.e., near John Day dam) would be a possible solution to maintain system performance and revenue.
<RedFish BlueFish> A natural gas fired plant can produce power at a cost comparable to these Snake River dams. This brings the question: If electric demand must be met, is it the government's place to be in this business? Should market forces be asked to meet the demand? Comments, please.
<RedFish BlueFish> BPA gets about 10% of their revenue from the Lower Snake Dams. Idaho Power gets about 1/6 of 1% their power from these dams.
<Tom Flint> There are real serious air problems with this natural fired gas plant. Remember that Hydropower is clean and renewable, and no other source is.
<RedFish BlueFish> Good point Tom, I agree.
<MightyColumbia> Red Blue, multiply gas power by a factor of 20 and you will get the feel of carbon power. You back carbon power.
<ENN Administrator> The transcript of this chat (which will be posted to http://www.enn.com/salmon/) will allow all contributors to review today's information
<RedFish BlueFish> Actually it is better that 1/10. Aluminum recycling takes 1/20th the power as production from raw material.
<MightyColumbia> Excellent ENN Administrator
<Tom Flint> It is better than i thought, thanks.
<RedFish BlueFish> Personally I am do not advocate a natural gas turbine solution.
<RedFish BlueFish> Conservation of energy seems to be the best solution in this regard.
<RedFish BlueFish> Now on to the power rates paid by consumers. Reed Burkholder has done an excellent job researching this and some of his findings are on the bluefish website: www.bluefish.org/idpower1.htm , www.bluefish.org/electric.htm , www.bluefish.org/wapower.htm
<Dick Dahlgren> It was good to be a part of this. Looking forward to the next one. Meanwhile there must be a new way of getting those fish back to Idaho.
<RedFish BlueFish> Basically, most residential users in the Northwest spend about $1 to $12 PER YEAR on power from the four Lower Snake River dams. There are, however, some rural communities that receive most or all of their power from the BPA. The four dams in question provide roughly 10% of the BPA power which puts a high end effect of 10% increase in power rates for these users.
<Tom Flint> I can thing of no other alternatives that are renewable and are as clean and environmentally friendly as hydropower, and with a 90 percent efficiency
<RedFish BlueFish> The question here is do the BPA rates need to go up 10% if the supply is reduced by 10%. We are on some supply and demand curve here, but the supply is in surplus in the Northwest (BPA Annual Report 1995). Remember, this is money to the BPA, i.e., the U.S. Treasury. This fiscal year 1999 payment of $628 million includes $421 million in interest to the federal government on its investment in the Federal Columbia River Power System. $191 million went to principal and $16 million went to operations and maintenance at the federal dams primarily for fish hatcheries linked to the lower Snake Rive dams. (Source: Journal 11/99)
<MightyColumbia> Red Blue, Snake river Dams are a bit bigger than you recognize. You should compare gross revenues of Snake River dams
<MightyColumbia> With BPA gross Revenue
<RedFish BlueFish> Conservation is the only thing that I can think of. Clean, environmentally friendly and 100% efficient. We are talking about saving 4% of the Pacific Northwest electricity. Only 4%.
<RedFish BlueFish> To date, the BPA has repaid the U.S. Treasury over $4 billion of the federal investment in the power system; $6.8 billion remains to be paid. A substantial amount of this debt is to pay for the failed nuclear power projects that were backed by the government. On a short side note, it seems that this bad debt (from nuclear projects) should be shared by the BPA Transmission business and should not solely be the responsibility of the BPA rate powers.
<Tom Flint> Currently most everyone in the Pacific Northwest is paying between 10-20 percent of the electric bill for salmon restoration through the mandates to the endangered species act.
<RedFish BlueFish> The question here is, do BPA power rates need be increased at all? Behind mineral rights, the BPA is the second largest source of revenue for the U.S. government. Currently, ratepayers are paying most of the $450 million per year in efforts to save salmon and steelhead. The four Lower Snake Dams provide about $250 million a year in revenue to the federal government. Taxation without Representation?
<MightyColumbia> Red Blue, kerosene is not cleaner than hydropower. I will work to save a future for your children.
<Tom Flint> How can you have commercial harvest of an endangered species and still be effective in your attempts.
<Tom Flint> It is better to turn than to burn.
<RedFish BlueFish> Conservation is what I am advocating, not kerosene. Again, thanks for the offer but I do not plan on having children.
<Dick Dahlgren> There must be an alternative. If there isn't it's only a matter of time before the dams go. But then again when the salmon are gone, there will be no need for discussion.
<MightyColumbia> Red Blue, nearly all of the BPA funds spent on salmon recovery are wasted. Especially flow augmentation. Which is based upon false assumptions. It is called the business of salmon recovery not the business of recovering salmon.
<RedFish BlueFish> Yes it seems that adding some transmission lines is all that will be necessary. No new energy will need to be produced.
<Tom Flint> Really looking forward into the future for our is interest and we believe in common sense salmon recovery.
<Bryan Cates> Isn't there someway we can address Red Fish's concerns and still leave the dams in place? Are fish ladders or some other low tech solutions just out of the question?
<Dick Dahlgren> With all the cumulative impacts on the salmon, one fact remains. The fish are doing well, thriving in the Columbia below the four dams. Above the four they continue to decline. Down 95% since the dams were built.
<RedFish BlueFish> Agree. Flow augmentation does not seem to be working. Idaho Water Resource put out a report that discusses that. Flow augmentation seems to be a political answer not a true benefit.
<Tom Flint> It would appear then you are advocating either nuclear or gas alternatives, Because no other source is as environmentally friendly as hydropower. These projects will help meet future loads as our population grows.
<MightyColumbia> Dam removal backers will back off the issue as soon as the public discovers that current data does not point to a dam removal solution. That will be the end of the fund raising enviro issue $$$ benefit to the dam removal backers.
<RedFish BlueFish> Business for Fish but out a report that says just what your saying. The biggest beneficiaries of the current system is the industry surrounding the huge outlay of government funds towards technological solutions that are not working. We are in total agreement here.
<Dick Dahlgren> Salmon numbers are way up on the Umatilla, the John Day, and the Yakima, and the Hanford reach of the Columbia, lower again above the Snake dams. (Idaho & Oregon F & G Depts)
<ENN Chat> O.K. folks - I hate to say this as our conversation is going great, but we need to wrap this up in about 5 minutes. We can continue this next week in addition to addressing some of the transportation issues involved.
<Tom Flint> He don't forget that the Idaho Fish and Game poisoned Redfish lake continuously through the 60,70, and 80 to turn it into a trout lake. That is the major reason that the salmon have declined, they were poisoned
<MightyColumbia> Remember that the dammed portion of the Snake and Columbia Rivers provide the safest portion of the salmon life cycle (NMFS)!!
<RedFish BlueFish> Good question Bryan. The problem is in the downstream migration of the young smolts on their way to the ocean. In 1934, the only biologist employed by the government at the time said that we will cause the extinction of the salmon. He was right but no one at the time wished to listen. So here we are.
<ENN Chat> I will have the transcript of the session up on the Salmon page on our site for your reference in about half an hour.
<ENN Chat> Any final comments?
<Dick Dahlgren> Tom. They did poison Redfish. Dumb. But Marsh Creek was barren this years and the year before.
<Tom Flint> Thank for this opportunity to share ideas.
<Dick Dahlgren> My best to you all, and Tom and Columbia, we gotta' get together on this thing.
<ENN Chat> Of course - Make sure to come next week for another chat on this issue.
<Tom Flint> Redfish was not the only one Stanley and a group of other which may include Marsh
<RedFish BlueFish> I haven't heard anyone speak up from Lewiston yet. Here's what Reed Burkholder has turned up. Water-related jobs are a small part of the Lewiston and Clarkston economy. Lewiston and Clarkston boast 22,000 and 11,000 jobs, respectively, 33,000 total. Waterway dependent jobs are likely under 100. Most of these are in wood chipping(45), log exporting(10), and barging(16).
<ENN Chat> O.K. Redfish - that will have to wait for next week.
<MightyColumbia> Returning salmon hit an all time low in the late 20s. Since that time the population climbed until the mid 40S. Returning salmon trend has continued about the same since then (Rock Island Dam the oldest dam on the river)
<ENN Chat> ENN is logging off - Thank you for coming everyone.
<RedFish BlueFish> These lost jobs need to be looked at. Retraining, financial assistance, etc. Reed Burkholder's "Water Transportation in the Lower Snake River": www.bluefish.org/watertra.htm
<RedFish BlueFish> Great chatting with you all. Let's keep our conservation channels open, eh?


Internet Chat
Salmon Chat: The Mitigation Plan
Environmental News Network December 8, 1999

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation