The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation is making it known that it strongly opposes Idaho Representative Mike Simpson’s proposal to remove the four lower Snake River dams. Simpson’s plan would create a $33 billion “Columbia Basin Fund” in an effort to transition economies and sectors negatively impacted by breaching the dams.
Idaho Farm Bureau’s Sean Ellis said the plan is a non-starter for Idaho ag, and there is no guarantee that knocking down the dams would help recover salmon populations. In fact, Ellis noted, the plan may negatively impact the environment.
“The wheat from Idaho would go on barges at the Port of Lewiston and then go down the river to the Port of Portland where it would be exported oversees. Removing the dams would make the Columbia/Snake River system unnavigable for barges, so that would take out that whole option to get commodities from Idaho to Portland for export.”
Ellis added agricultural products from Idaho would instead need to be transported by rail or truck, resulting in an increase in carbon and other harmful emissions by more than 1.3 million tons per year, according to the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. The Columbia-Snake system is the third largest grain export gateway in the world.
It also provides power to a significant portion of the Pacific Northwest, and removing the dams would increase power rates around the region.
“During last year’s session of the Idaho legislature, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a join memorial that affirms their support for the entire Columbia/Snake River system. That memorial passed the House 61-3. It also passed the Senate by a voice vote. It states that Idaho opposes the removal of damns on the Columbia/Snake system.”
Ellis added IFBF supports efforts to recover salmon populations, but any federal dollars available for the effort “should not be used to create new problems for farmers, businesses and others in the Pacific Northwest who depend on the Columbia-Snake River system.”
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