Hydroelectric power provides about 2/3’s of Washington’s electricity, a major reason the State’s carbon footprint is much lower than places where coal or other fossil fuels are used to make power. Four dams along the Snake River, Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams were build in the 1950s and 60s to open up the lower Snake River to navigation and to make electricity. The dams also provide flood control and irrigation for agriculture. Low cost power has been to blame for interfering with Salmon runs, and conservationist have long called for the dam’s removal. As energy prices rise, politicians have latched on to the dams as a campaign issue. The desire to save the Northwest salmon species from extinction is now pitted against the desire to slow global warming. Now that gas has risen to $4 per gallon, removal of the dams to save salmon requires significantly more truck traffic to haul the grain that is currently barged. Having a healthy salmon population, a vibrant economy in Eastern Washington, fishing opportunities and a reliable energy source seemed to be mutually exclusive.


Scroll to Top