Talking Points

Intel from early meetings indicates that federal agencies conducting scoping meetings throughout the region are doing so in open house fashion. It's difficult or impossible to tell that the process was ordered by a federal judge or that it has much to do with endangered wild salmon--or the lower Snake River. Don't let this apparent attempt to dilute your voices stand. Please submit comments seeking consideration of the reasonable and prudent alternative of removing the four lower Snake River dams.

  • Lower Snake River dam removal must be one of the alternatives selected for evaluation in the NEPA scoping process. Evaluation of this alternative should be honest, thorough and accurate, correcting omissions and inaccuracies in the Corps' 2002 Lower Snake River Feasibility Report.
  • The system of dams on the lower Snake River is failing Idaho's endangered salmon, and it's failing the people who depend on salmon. It's also failing ratepayers and taxpayers who are propping up a system of dams that are aging and failing to offset their mounting costs.
  • Lower Snake River restoration will energize Idaho's economy. North central Idaho significantly trails all other regions of the state in economic growth. Numerous studies show that increased salmon runs would add hundreds of millions of dollars to north central and central Idaho in angling alone.
  • We shouldn't continue wasting taxpayer and ratepayer money on four costly lower Snake River dams we can easily live without. The amount of energy the dams provide has been replaced several times over the past decade alone via conservation, wind and solar. Moreover, we can't afford to subsidize barge shipping in a declining market.
  • The four lower Snake River dams produce about 930 annual megawatts of electricity a year. The claim that the only way to replace that is by building a natural gas plant is not credible. Utilities and have successfully integrated new renewable resources and built energy efficiency equivalent to more than a dozen natural gas fired plants. (Read this column by NW Energy Coalition Executive Director Nancy Hirsh for more about the energy picture.)
  • Communities around the nation are learning about the benefits of river restoration. When dams are removed, fish return and people connect with their rivers. The majority of Idahoans want their salmon back, and they've been compromising on that point for the past 20 years. 
  • Salmon are in trouble now. Rural riverside economies are in trouble now. Five more years is an outrageous amount of time for us to wait for the possibility that these federal agencies might get something right when their 20-year track record clearly indicates they can't. It's time for immediate change.
  • This NEPA process was ordered by federal Judge Michael Simon, and is intended to find strategies to modify the Federal Columbia River Power System to meet water quality standards in the Snake and Columbia rivers and to recover the basin's wild salmon and steelhead. It is inappropriate for scoping meetings to be focused on reviewing or defending existing hydrosystem operations; they were ruled illegal and insufficient. The region needs solutions. 


The lower Snake River’s story is one of abundance and scarcity, prosperity and poverty, and unfortunate government deception that betrays the public trust. It's a story about how federal agencies cooked their books to validate infrastructure that, then as much as now, couldn’t be justified economically. And it’s a story about the decline of cherished natural resources.

The lower Snake River dams were built between 1961 and 1975, but they were imagined as early as the 1910s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received Congressional authorization to build a 5-foot navigable channel from the Columbia River to Lewiston, an idea abandoned in 1917 “due to lack of traffic,” according to a letter sent from the Portland District Engineer to Congress...

Click here to read or download a pdf that chronicles the history of the lower Snake waterway.


The lower Snake River and its social, environmental and commercial impacts have been heavily studied over the course of the past 20 years. Following are links to pdfs of some of the more pertinent independent studies and reports.

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