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.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.
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.
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.