Support the Northwest's Clean & Equitable Energy Future - Save the Dams! (Please Share!)

Support the Northwest's Clean & Equitable Energy Future - Save the Dams! (Please Share!)

February 3, 2020
Petition to
United States Senator Senator Maria Cantwell and
Signatures: 3,235Next Goal: 5,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Kurt Miller


If we truly want to save salmon, we need to heal our oceans.

If we genuinely want our clean energy future to include everyone, we need it to be affordable.

To do both, the Northwest needs the lower Snake River dams.

Here are some facts that we ask you to consider:


Most regional energy forecasters, including the Northwest Power & Conservation Council, the Northwest Power Pool, E3, and Energy Strategies are warning of the real threat of an energy shortage or region-wide blackouts for the Northwest as the region moves away from coal and natural gas generation. 

The risk would be much worse without the lower Snake River dams in place, which typically produce enough carbon-free electricity to power a city the size of Seattle. 


An energy shortage can result in problems that go beyond blackouts. During the last energy shortage in 2000-2001, the Northwest didn't experience blackouts, but still lost 5,000 living-wage jobs as electricity bills skyrocketed. 

Imagine what a repeat would mean now, at a time when the region has a homelessness crisis and an affordable housing shortage. 

The dams also provide the only source of irrigation for tens of thousands of acres in eastern Washington. Those farms, in turn, provide many diverse and under-served communities with agricultural work.

Many agricultural communities across the inland Northwest also depend on the dams to provide access for low-carbon barging to get their produce to market. 


The lower Snake River dams are essential to reaching the Northwest’s clean energy goals. They generate over 1,000 average megawatts of affordable, carbon-free electricity. They also help us safely add intermittent renewables, like wind and solar power, to the grid.

The hydroelectric turbines at the dams can very quickly fill in the gaps for wind and sunshine, keeping the grid balanced.


We believe that the many billions of dollars it would take to breach the dams and replace their capabilities would be much more effectively spent on cleaning up the Puget Sound, where the Southern Resident orcas spend most of their lives.

It is well documented that the Puget Sound suffers from high levels of toxicity which affect both Pacific Salmon and orcas. Salmon in the Puget Sound have been found with measurable levels of antidepressants, nicotine, herbicides, and even cocaine in their systems. Because orcas eat large amounts of salmon, these toxins become concentrated in their fat. These substances may be passed along to orca calves through their mothers’ milk. 

It will take massive investments and the whole region pulling together to repair the Puget Sound and its tributaries so that the area is suitable for healthy salmon and orca populations. 


Salmon and steelhead are critically important to the region. They have an especially deep meaning to the spiritual, cultural, and economic lives for Northwest Native American tribes.

We believe that important steps can and must be taken to improve salmon survival.

It is also important to recognize the major fish passage improvements made to the lower Snake River dams. Over $2 billion has been invested in improved fish passage technologies for the lower Snake and lower Columbia river dams since 2001.

These improvements have made a significant difference in juvenile salmon survival. Additionally, from 2001-2015 the lower Snake River experienced by far its highest adult salmon returns since the first lower Snake River dam was completed in 1961.


Salmon pass through many different ecosystems in their life cycles. The ocean is where Chinook salmon spend 75% of their lives.

In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that climate-driven changes have become a major threat to marine life in ocean ecosystems. They said that these changes are poisoning our oceans with carbon, heat, and acidity and depleting the waters of oxygen.

It’s not surprising, then, that marine biologists have recently noted near-synchronous declines in worldwide salmon populations. Most of these salmon populations come from rivers without dams.   

Meanwhile, the lower Snake River dams can displace as much carbon as would be produced by two Boardman coal plants running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


When you look at the issue in this larger context, it’s clear that destroying the lower Snake River dams is a step in the wrong direction. It is wrong for vulnerable communities and for the long-term health of our planet. 

We urge you to support a clean and equitable energy future because we are stronger when we join together.

A signature is just the beginning, though. Please take a moment to share this petition with others and help spread the word!

For more information visit 

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Signatures: 3,235Next Goal: 5,000
Support now