Hydroelectric plants are a good
By Dick Little 10/09/2006
The environmental movement is after us again on
several fronts. This time they claim they are
attempting to save salmon runs in the north. First
they want to take out four hydroelectric dams they
claim are halting salmon from getting up the
Klamath River to spawn.
A Portland-based utility company, Pacific
Corporation, is seeking a new 50-year operating
license for Iron Gate, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2,
and J.C. Boyle dams. The dams reportedly produce
about 150 megawatts of power, enough to serve
about 70,000 households.
Taking 150 megawatts out of a growing market in
California would only increase rates. Imagine how
much rates would increase if the electrical power
supply to 70,000 homes was gone and it had to be
made up from the state's shrinking number of power
Indian tribes, some salmon fishing groups and
conservation groups are pushing Pacific to remove
the dams claiming they are harming salmon runs. An
Associated Press report said last year's salmon
run was so poor it almost shut down commercial
The Coastal Conservancy has turned over a series
of studies to the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) claiming removing the dams is
"feasible" because "& only five percent of the 21
million cubic yards of sediment trapped behind the
them would wash out, and could all be gone in one
winter rainy season." (That's nice but what about
the loss of electrical power, recreational
activity and loss of jobs? None of that was
Pacific offered to gather salmon coming upstream
and truck them around the dams, and place them in
lakes behind the structures. They claim any
decision on the future of the hydroelectric dams,
"will take years to develop before any removal
strategy is undertaken."
An analyst for a group called "American Rivers"
told federal officials the power company could
lose nearly $29 million a year if fish ladders and
other aids were ordered to be installed on the
Steve Rothert said a group of studies submitted to
federal authorities, "& isn't a comprehensive
review. A full assessment of the environmental
impacts of the dam-removal scenario & would likely
take years of study by several federal and state
agencies before any agreed-upon removal strategy
could be developed."
The federal government has already ordered the
company to install fish ladders at the dams, but
Pacific is challenging the rules. An
administrative law judge is expected to reply to
the challenge in the near future.
The issue of salmon losses has been at the
forefront of environmental challenges for
hydroelectric dams for the past 24 years. Those in
the movement have blamed hydroelectric dams for
loss of salmon in the oceans while ignoring other
areas of concern.
This movement includes the same groups that have
been attempting to eliminate dams along the
Columbia River that produce power for most of the
Hydroelectric power is the cleanest and most
efficient power we produce. It's 33 percent less
expensive than gas-fired power operations which by
the way, are being built in large numbers
Thanks to the environmental movement and their
opposition to hydroelectric dams and nuclear power
plants, we pay more for energy in California than
almost any other state. I don't know about you,
but I find it silly that my power bill would be a
lot lower if we were allowed to build the dams
necessary to produce it.
Experts say we do have a number of good dam sites
Many people who support the environmental movement
are filthy rich. They can afford pay a high cost
for their energy. Many of these people live along
Prices are so high to build near the coast, the
average Californian will never have an opportunity
to live there. That's why they put up a lot of
cash to halt oil drilling off the coast. They
don't want to look out and see oil-drilling
The rich love environmental groups. The "save us
from ourselves" people work hard for laws that
control growth and shut down development. Since
the rich own much of the housing along our coast
they are literally manipulating the supply of
housing and energy driving up the cost of both.
A free and open marketplace benefits everyone from
the rich, to the working class, to the poor. Even
environmentalists benefit when there's plenty of
housing available and affordable energy to keep us
Unfortunately, the movement overall has been less
than honest on several fronts.
Almost all of the information they feed to us
through the media is only half right and ignores
data that does not fit their cause. That's
"normal" for advocates, which is why we need a
media that will investigate their claims and find
other sources that may produce different answers.
For instance, their claims about the "depletion of
the supply of salmon" can be traced to the
increases in the orca, seal, and sea lion
populations off the coast and the restoration of
the bald eagle population.
Orcas, seals and sea lion populations were held
down because fishermen could kill them if they
tried to steal their catch.
Since the feds won't allow them to be killed
anymore, their populations are growing rapidly.
The restoration of the bald eagle has worked so
well there's a movement to take them off the
Endangered Species List. They also feast on
There's a law of physics that must be applied to
all environmental issues: "for every action,
there's an equal and opposite reaction."
Media people need to know this law cannot under
any circumstances be repealed.
Dick Little is a Paradise resident who also
contributes to a local Npr station