Snake River Dams Do not Present Clear Power

The Snake River Dams are within the information as soon as once more, and this time they’re within the crosshairs of scientists from a gaggle referred to as Inform The Dam Reality (a bit on the nostril, however I prefer it).

Inform The Dam Reality simply launched a research that appears at claims concerning the clear vitality produced by the Decrease Snake River Dams – The Decrease Granite, Little Goose, Decrease Monumental, and Ice Harbor. One of many many arguments made for maintaining the dams in place is the supposedly clear vitality these dams produce by way of hydropower.

Based on Inform The Dam Reality, nevertheless, that vitality is something however clear.

“Over the previous few many years, dam, reservoir, and hydropower services have come underneath growing scientific scrutiny due to the greenhouse gases they emit,” reads the introduction to the research. “Greater than 760 peer-reviewed scientific research since 1974 describe GHGs from dam and reservoir initiatives, together with these producing hydropower. Initiatives constructed primarily for hydropower manufacturing typically can emit much more GHGs than coal-fired energy vegetation producing an equal quantity of electrical energy.”

That’s fairly the declare, and although Inform The Dam Reality cites their sources of their report, I used to be curious to see if different scientists backed up these claims. Particularly, that hydropower generates extra carbon emissions than it saves.

The important thing factor to know right here is the time period “renewable.” A renewable supply of vitality is outlined as “vitality from a supply that’s not depleted when used.” Within the push for extra environmentally-friendly vitality sources, the time period renewable is usually tossed round, and typically used interchangeably with “environmentally pleasant.” In any case, a renewable supply ought to be higher for the setting than a non-renewable, proper?

Based on the Environmental Protection Fund, that’s not the case.

“However the reservoirs the place water is saved additionally produce each carbon dioxide and methane (an much more potent greenhouse gasoline, with over 80 instances the warming energy of CO2 for the primary 20 years after it’s launched),” reads a publish on the EDT web site. “Each carbon dioxide and methane are launched when vegetation decomposes underneath water.”

When factoring within the carbon dioxide and methane emissions, the EDF discovered that “of the almost 1,500 vegetation worldwide that we examined and account for half of world hydropower technology, greater than 100 services have greenhouse gasoline emissions that trigger extra warming than fossil fuels.”

So, that’s two sources who declare hydropower isn’t as clear as we thought. Sure, it’s renewable, however the technique of turning water into energy is probably going inflicting extra emissions than it saves.

Which brings us again to the Snake River Dams. Based on Inform The Dam Reality, not solely are they a few of the main causes in salmon and steelhead decline within the Snake River (that’s an proven fact), however they’re additionally worse for the setting than beforehand thought.

The U.S. Power Data Administration agrees, stating on their web site that “Hydropower turbines don’t straight emit air pollution. Nevertheless, dams, reservoirs, and the operation of hydroelectric turbines can have an effect on the setting.”

But the U.S. Division of Power makes no such admissions on its web page extolling the advantages of hydropower. We shouldn’t be stunned that two authorities businesses aren’t on the identical web page, however the disconnect is jarring.

So, which is it? Is hydropower as dangerous as Inform The Dam Reality and the EDF declare? Or is all of it roses and rainbows because the Division of Power needs us to suppose?

I’m no scientist, and I don’t faux to be. I’m, nevertheless, innately distrustful of presidency, so I’m much less inclined to imagine something popping out of D.C. I’m additionally not within the enterprise of telling anybody what to suppose, and my hope with this column is that you simply’ll conduct your personal analysis and are available to your personal conclusions.

Regardless, it’s attention-grabbing to see yet one more potential adversarial environmental affect cited as a motive to tear down the Snake River Dams.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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