Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

No Dam Way, Don

We last heard from Spokane millionaire hotelier and liberal Democrat Don Barbieri after he lost the race for the open 5th District U.S. House of Representatives seat to Republican Cathy McMorris by 21 points in 2004.

Yesterday, Barbieri wrote in a Seattle Times guest op-ed:
I ran for Congress in Eastern Washington's conservative 5th District in 2004. I heeded advice to avoid the hot-button issue of salmon recovery and dam removal at all costs. If I were running today, I would take a different approach, both because the residents of Eastern Washington increasingly recognize that quality of life is the economic future of our towns and cities, and because there is a moral imperative to protect a species both iconic to the Northwest and spiritually vital to the Native American tribes.
Please Don, run for Congress again on a platform of removing the Snake River dams.

Barbieri further stated:
Replacing 140 miles of barge navigation with new rail and improved highways, supporting clean-energy investments and restoring a salmon sport fishery with an estimated worth of more than a half-billion dollars a year to Idaho alone would be an economic boon, allowing both farming sectors and new industries to thrive.
Half a billion dollars a year in salmon sport fishery in Idaho alone? What new industries would “thrive” if the dams were breached? And trucking and moving wheat by rail versus by barge is a “clean energy investment?” I think Don is smoking something, and it isn’t salmon.

I quote now from a 1999 editorial by then State Rep. (now Sen.) Mark Schoesler and Rep. Don Cox:
It is important to remember that the dams were built to serve many essential purposes, including serving as a critical part of the transportation system that supports our economy. Barges use locks at the dams to move up and down the river. These barges are responsible for 4 million tons of commerce a year, including carrying 3 million tons of wheat. If the dams were lost it would take 700,000 more semi-trucks or 120,000 more railroad cars to move the freight now carried by barge. Without this ability to move agricultural and other products along the river, the state's economy would be dramatically weakened.

In addition, the dams provide needed flood control that protects agricultural lands, port facilities and the residents of cities and communities along the river. They also provide a reliable and affordable supply of electricity and vital sources of water for irrigation.
At a time when there is great concern over global warming, why would we want to dramatically increase carbon emissions from trucks and trains and get rid of renewable, sustainable hydroelectric energy sources? Plus, there is the issue of increased danger on the highways from all the thousands of extra wheat trucks. And where on earth is the money for the increased rail infrastructure going to come from? We have had to beg and fight in Olympia just to keep open our puny existing rail lines in Whitman County.

There is no conclusive proof that the dams hurt salmon runs and recovery efforts have progressed, such as hatcheries, fish ladders, and increasing water flow over the dams at certain times of the year. Much of the salmon problem is overharvesting in the ocean and at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Millionaires like Barbieri may measure “quality of life” differently, but for most folks, “quality of life” begins with a paycheck. To our “iconic” Palouse wheat farmers who already are teetering on the edge economically, dam breaching on the lower Snake would be disastrous and destroy an entire industry and a way of life.

Isn’t it interesting that Barbieri submitted this editorial to the Times, and not the Spokesman-Review? I’d love to see Barbieri pitch this idea in a cafe in Pomeroy or Colfax versus the coffeehouses of Seattle.


Satanic Mechanic said...

Barbieri should just leave eastern Washington and live in the "Moonbat Mecca" that is Seattle.
Three reasons why we have dams:
1. Source of water. The dams have made it possible to farm the deserts of Washington.

2. Flood control. many cities and town would have been destroyed by uncontrolled floods of the Snake, Columbia and Spokane rivers.

3. Electricity. Right now we pay about five cents per kilowatt hour. Back east they pay about twelve to fifteen cents per kilowatt hour. Does Barbieri know that Washington produces its own power and the surplus goes down to the People's Republic of California? We have a very interesting way of storing power, we store it in the form of large bodies of water behind dams. When we need the power we release the water through turbines which are tied to generators which produces power. We do not have rolling blackouts.

Tom Forbes said...

Exactly. Eastern Washington was nothing before the dams were built.

The water from the dams has turned the Columbia Basin from a desert into a breadbasket.

And the cheap plentiful electricity has brought in business from Hanford, to Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane, to the Google, Microsoft and Yahoo server farms in Quincy.

Satanic Mechanic said...

I was thinking to my self that most of the dams that were built in Washington were a result of the Public Works projects that were started during the great Depression by Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat. Now the Democrats and liberals want to destory the dams?
Besides Clinton, FDR was pretty close to being a socialist with the Public Works programs and the CCC. The lefties want to destroy what the only arguibly good Democrat of the 20th century built?

April E. Coggins said...

SM: We should be starved so that we can be saved. It's an amazing political strategy that has worked throughout the ages. Tear down the dams and we can all dine on salmon.