Skip to main content
ad info

 
CNN.com  nature
  Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 
NATURE
TOP STORIES

New hurdles hamper Galapagos oil spill cleanup

Insight, Prius lead the hybrid-powered fleet

Picture: Indonesia's Merapi volcano erupts

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

Up to 2,000 killed in India quake; fear of aftershocks spreads

Clinton aide denies reports of White House vandalism

New hurdles hamper Galapagos oil-spill cleanup

Two more Texas fugitives will contest extradition

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

HEALTH

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:
CNN e-store


White House gives thumbs down on removal of Pacific Northwest dams

Edwards Dam
One year ago this month, the Edwards Dam in Augusta, Maine, was demolished  

July 19, 2000
Web posted at: 11:35 p.m. EDT (0335 GMT)


In this story:

Eastern dam already down

Electrical side effects

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



WASHINGTON -- In what may be a blow to both environmentalists and Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign, the Clinton administration will not support removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in the Pacific Northwest to assist the recovery of endangered salmon.

The White House revealed the decision in papers released Wednesday detailing planned congressional testimony from George Frampton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

 VIDEO
VideoCNN's Gina London explores whether the benefits of breaching dams is worth the cost
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K
 
  ALSO
 
 Four Snake River dams in dispute:
Ice Harbor Dam
Lower Monumental Dam
Little Goose Dam
Lower Granite Dam

The four earthen dams in the state of Washington have emerged as a regional issue in the presidential campaign.

Many people in the Pacific Northwest have been torn between supporting attempts to recover salmon runs protected under the Endangered Species Act and accepting the higher electricity rates and other problems that could come from bringing down the dams.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the presumptive Republican nominee, says the dams should stay, while Gore, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has not taken a stance on the issue.

In his written testimony, Frampton said dam breaching is one step among many that holds promise for recovering Snake River salmon runs.

"But it is also clear that breaching the Snake River dams may not be essential to recovering these runs, and probably would not be sufficient," he said.

Plus, Frampton said, "Dam breaching will require congressional authorization, funding, detailed planning and execution -- over an uncertain period that is not likely to be less than a decade, and perhaps much longer."

In a statement released by his campaign, Bush said, "Al Gore should take a stand. I say we can use technology to save the salmon, without leaving the door open to destroying these dams.

"Today's announcement is the latest attempt by Bill Clinton and Al Gore to make this issue go away until after the election. I have consistently said we should not destroy these dams. Al Gore wants the door left open to their destruction."

Gore said the matter needs further study and that he would review the administration's position carefully.

"As president, I will bring all the parties and stakeholders together," Gore told reporters during a campaign visit to Missouri. "I am going to ... come up with a solution that respects the environment and does not cause an upheaval in the economy."

fish
The removal of Edwards Dam allowed for the return of at least 10 species of migratory fish  

Eastern dam already down

Across the country in Maine, it took 10 years for the Kennebec Coalition to win removal of the Edwards Dam across the Kennebec River in Augusta, the state capital. The removal of the dam, one year ago this month, allowed for the return of at least 10 species of migratory fish.

It was the first hydroelectric dam in the United States ordered breached by the government against the dam owners' wishes.

The fish species had not been able to swim that part of the Kennebec since the dam was built 162 years ago.

Eighteen miles of the river were affected by the dam removal, a stretch of water running from Augusta in the south to Waterville in the north.

"It's remarkable to talk to people who used to work at the mills up near Waterville at the end of the 18 mile stretch who said they couldn't imagine a day when people wouldn't think it was OK to dump vats of chemicals in the river," said Laura Rose Day of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. "Let alone see a river that's free-flowing, full of oxygen, restored, and where they're catching 52-inch striped bass."

Scott Davis is a river guide who knows the Kennebec like the back of his hand after fishing the river for some 20 years.

"I see a whole new, reborn river," said Davis, of Fish n' Fowl Guide Service.

"Stripers weren't here, your herring, your sturgeon, your salmon. Fish life, the wildlife, there's just so much more right now ... with the dam removed," Davis said.

Electrical side effects

The increase in recreational fishing and boating is helping Augusta recoup its losses. Although Edwards Dam produced only about one-tenth of 1 percent of Maine's energy, the city lost about $250,000 in revenue and taxes with its removal.

Since the removal of the dam, at least 25 other dams across the country have been taken out, and more than a dozen are slated for removal this summer and fall.

But critics say hydropower dams are responsible for most of the renewable energy in the United States and that removing too many dams could create a bigger environmental problem.

"For every 1,000 of kilowatt hours of electricity that are lost from hydropower, we have to replace that with fossil fuels," said hydropower attorney Mike Swiger.

Supporters of the Snake River dams say closing down the dams' hydroelectric generators would eliminate about 5 percent of the region's electricity, hiking electric bills $1 to $5 a month.

Many environmentalists, however, see the resurgence of the Kennebec as a positive precedent.

"The Kennebec coalition worked for more than 10 years to remove the Edwards Dam, and because they had success, people say, 'Hey, this isn't just a dream, it's reality,'" said Pat Keliher of the Coastal Conservation Association of Maine. "People are really rushing to try to remove these dams that have no benefit."

The trick, environmentalists say, is to examine each dam's usefulness on a case-by-case basis, so the current trickle of removals does not turn into a haphazard torrent.

CNN Correspondent Gina London and Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Snake dams defy Clean Water Act, EPA says
May 2, 2000
Conservation group lists most endangered U.S. rivers
April 10, 2000
Lower Snake River named most endangered U.S. waterway
March 13, 2000
Missouri River destiny hangs in the balance
January 20, 2000
Federal report supports removal of 4 Snake dams
December 22, 1999
Study opens floodgates on dam removal
December 16, 1999

RELATED ENN STORIES:
Kennebec River revived after Edwards Dam removal
Edwards Dam: from flotsam to furniture
Edwards Dam comes down Thursday
Pact clears way for Edwards Dam removal

RELATED SITES:
Council on Environmental Quality
Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  •  The Endangered Species Act of 1973
Natural Resources Council of Maine
Coastal Conservation Association of Maine


Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 Search   


Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.