Snake River Dams

Scott Church
Restoring the Lower Snake River: Saving Salmon & Saving Money
Lansing, P.S. & E. Vogel, 1998
This 1998 report from the Oregon National Resources Council presents on of the more thorough economic studies of the interrelationship between the lower Snake dams and the barging and agribusiness sectors in Washington and Idaho, and the likely impacts of breaching them. Though based on 1995 economic data, little has changed in the intervening years. Apart from inflation and some redistribution of power sales and purchases, everything presented is as relevant today as it was when the study was first released.
Appendix D: Impacts of the Bypass
This study by the Oregon based economic research consulting firm ECONorthwest, presents another exhaustive study of the economics of Snake River dam breaching. All of the more thorough economic analyses of these impacts have considered secondary economic reactions in other sectors and independent economic forces as well. This study is no exception, featuring appendices covering autonomous economic forces and analyses of the transitions in other sectors such as the recreation, service, and ecological sectors. The studies cited by prd-dam advocates consistently gloss over these factors or ignore them altogether.
Dam Breaching Myths
Oregon Quarterly, Autumn 2000
This article presents an overview of the most persistent myths being circulated about the economic impacts of Snake River dam breaching. The article also discusses the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers impact study most frequently cited by pro-dam advocates and shows that it was based on the assumption of a rigid economy - one where no jobs are absorbed by other sectors, there are no resulting adjustments of any kind in farming practices, and no laid-off workers seek any other employment. In other words, an imaginary economy.
Facts & Conclusions of the Report
In 2002 the Rand Corporation published what may be the most complete study to date of the economics of Snake dam breaching. The report is significant not only for its completeness and breadth of analysis, but because Rand is one of the most respective think tanks in the world and is centrist. In fact, most of their previous work on similar issues is slightly Right leaning if anything. Far-Right pro-dam advocates who wish to dismiss all thorough dam breaching economic impact studies as "liberal propaganda" will find their work cut out for them on this one.
Going With the Flow: Replacing Energy from Four Snake River Dams
Here is yet another study on the impacts of breaching the Lower Snake River dams - this one from the Natural Resources Defense Council. This report, which was released in April of 2000 analyzes the costs and air pollution consequences of removing the four dams and replacing the electricity they generate with energy from other sources. Like most other independent scientific and economic studies on dam removal, the study finds that energy from the dams can be replaced affordably for residential electricity users without increasing air pollution. The NRDC extensively reviewed the Bonneville Power Administrations costs and power delivery options, direct and proxy impacts on commercial and residential ratepayers, and the potential contributions and impacts of a variety of other alternatives. They found that loss of the 4 dams would at worst raise residential power rates by no more than $3 per month without significantly contributing to pollution, and still leave the BPA with generation costs among the lowest of any power marketer in the nation.
Lower Snake River Juvenile Salmon Migration Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement. Final report, Feb. 2002
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers: Walla Walla Dist.
This is the year 2002 analysis of management alternatives for the Lower Snake River salmon runs covering by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District. Included is an economic impact assessment (Appendix I) that is commonly cited by pro-dam advocates as proof of that breaching the four Snake dams in Washington State would be economically devastating. The analysis has been widely faulted for neglecting a number of important economic factors. An overview of these problems is presented in the year 200 ECONorthwest report linked below.
Review of the DRAFT Lower Snake River Juvenile Salmon Migration FR/EIS
ECONorthwest, 2000
This is an economic analysis of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Draft FR/EIS for Lower Snake River Juvenile Salmon Migration. The report, which critically reviews the USACE economic analysis included in their Feb. 2000 Environmental Impact report, was prepared for Trout Unlimited and submitted to the Corp in spring of 2000. The Corp's economic analysis has been criticized for not taking into account a wide range of important factors, including alternatives for federal and local assistance for rural communities during the period of economic adjustment, and the reaction of other economic sectors to the change. The analysis assumed for instance, that all jobs supported by the existing dam dependent agribusinesses will be permanently lost and the surrounding economy will not reabsorb displaced workers for a test period of 100 years—in other words, when, if, farms are closed, displaced workers will not seek, or find, any other employment in the region (when was the last time you saw someone lose their job and make virtually no attempt whatsoever to find another one?). Had the Corp included these and other important factors in their analysis (as did every other major economic study of the impact) their primary conclusions would have been invalidated.


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