(Update: Buehler blasts Brown's 'radical' position on dams' removal)
SALEM, Ore. (AP/KTVZ) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she is in favor of removing four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in Washington state, a position blasted as "radical" Saturday by former state representative and congressional candidate Knute Buehler of Bend.
Brown, a Democrat, sent a letter to Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee this week, saying she believes it is the best way to increase endangered salmon runs.
The Tri-City Herald reported the letter outraged Washington state’s three Republican U.S. House members, who want to keep the dams.
The dams generate electricity, provide some irrigation and flood control and allow barges to operate all the way to Lewiston, Idaho. But they are also blamed for killing salmon and steelhead that are migrating to the ocean or back to their spawning grounds.
Knute Buehler, the Bend orthopedic surgeon and former state representative running for the 2nd Congressional District seat held by Rep. Greg Walden, issued a statement Saturday blasting Brown's "radical" position on the dams' removal:
“The Snake River dams were built to provide several benefits to the region, including a clean, carbon-free renewable source of electricity, barge transportation, and irrigation for crops in the Columbia River Basin. Removing carbon-free hydro on the Snake River is the first step toward tearing out hydro on the Columbia River. This new Kate Brown position is radical and threatens critical Northwest energy and agriculture jobs.”
According to the Bonneville Power Administration, removing the dam would add 2.6 metric tons of carbon to the environment every year or the equivalent of 421,000 cars added to the region's roads, Buehler said.
“Most energy experts are now predicting the possibility of an energy shortage or even region wide blackouts. Partnered with Kate Brown’s cap and trade scheme taking out the lower Snake River dams is irresponsible, especially when we do not have the necessary resources to keep the lights on in the region,” Buehler said.
In addition to the energy and environmental impacts, the monetary costs to breach the dams could reach upwards of $2.6 billion, and the cost to maintain system reliability with natural gas could reach $372 million per year, the candidate said in his news release.