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Report: Lower Snake River dams source of methane emissions

  • Written by Eric Tegethoff

new report found four dams in the Columbia River Basin are big emitters of methane.

Research from the organization Tell The Dam Truth showed the four lower Snake River dams in eastern Washington emit the equivalent of 1.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Robin Everett, deputy western region field director for the Sierra Club, said it undercuts some of the claims the dams are helping provide the region with clean energy.

"It's really clear from this report that we have to take this a lot more seriously that there are some real impacts as far as emissions go from these dams," Everett asserted.

The reports showed the dams produce the equivalent emissions of burning 2 billion pounds of coal annually. Defenders of the dams counted they are important for barging and irrigation for the area's agricultural lands.

But Everett pointed out the dams have another effect on the region: they block the dwindling population of salmon and steelhead from traveling upstream on the Snake River. She noted it not only hurts fish populations but the tribes relying on them.

"We have an obligation for them to be able to fish and if there are no fish to fish, we have broken the treaties," Everett contended

Chinook salmon are also an important source of food for orca on the West Coast. Everett added protecting salmon is important for tribes and the region as a whole.

"Our moral obligation to the salmon and the orca that depend on them are met as well," Everett concluded.

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