Resolution for removal of dams fails to pass

Legislation does not get two-thirds majority vote from ASWSU Senate



Environmental Sustainability Chair Patrick Robichaud discusses the benefits of the removal of the Snake River dams for salmon in the state of Washington.

JAKOB THORINGTON, Former Evergreen reporter

A resolution calling for the removal of four lower Snake River dams did not pass during the ASWSU Senate meeting on Wednesday.

The resolution failed to reach a two-thirds majority vote. It called for the removal of the Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams.

Environmental Sustainability Chair Patrick Robichaud testified to the Senate for the approval of the resolution. He said the removal of the dams would prevent the extinction of the salmon population in the region.

“These dams have been a continual fight between environmentalists and proponents of them since their inception since the ’70s,” he said.

Senator Mikaela McCoy notified the Senate of the feedback she received from her College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences constituents.

She said students and faculty at the college were worried about the effects the removal of the dams would have on farmers and the agriculture in the region.

The only economically viable way that grain is brought into the area is through the river, she said. The dams allow for shipments to be brought in.

“It would be billions of dollars to breach the dams,” McCoy said. “Wind is not economically sound. Coal is bad. Solar—you can’t use at night.”

Robichaud said power needs in the region could be met with other renewable forms of energy as the U.S. has become more energy efficient.

“You don’t need to produce that much power to replace these dams,” he said. “I had heard that if these dams were to power the city of Seattle, it would not have enough power to do so.”

McCoy said the faculty at the college were worried CAHNRS donors would pull out funding if the resolution was passed. The dams power about 800,000 homes in the area, she said.

Senator Linda Vargas said the salmon population is beneficial to Native American populations in the area.

She read a letter signed by Native American tribes calling for support of the resolution to Senate members. Representatives from the Puyallup, Tulalip, Colville Confederated, Navajo, and Yakama tribes signed the letter.

Senator Jocelyn Granados said she supported the resolution for its benefits to salmon populations and Native American cultures.

“We’ve seen it time and again,” she said. “Indigenous people have been ignored, land stolen, things like that, and this is why I am in favor of this resolution.

Joshua Hiler, sophomore political science major, said the loss of hydropower would likely increase the amount of power produced from sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear energy.

“[Coal and natural gas] generate a significant amount of carbon pollution, and the other is politically unviable for a number of reasons,” he said.

He said the long-term ecological impacts would be significantly worse for local ecology and the entire planet.

The Senate also passed a bill that requires the election board to hold at least two presidential debates during election season.

Ryan Vance, a third-year political science, Chinese and Japanese major, was also confirmed as the deputy director of legislative affairs.