Governor’s fundraising e-mail signals strong role for politics in new Snake River study

Nov 17, 2021

We still don’t have details about the proposed study on the four Lower Snake River dams announced by Governor Inslee and Senator Murray in October. What will it cover? Who will oversee the study? How will it get paid for? What will this one discover that numerous other studies by the federal agencies and state of Washington have not?

The lack of details hasn’t prevented the governor from using the promise of a study to raise money for his campaign.

On November 4, the governor's campaign sent an e-mail to donors with the apocalyptic subject line of, “A Pacific Northwest without salmon.” The letter said:

The letter claims the governor – writing in the first person – has “an open mind,” but says he is committed to “decisive action.” Having promised action on the dams, it seems unlikely that he will allow the study to conclude that destroying the dams is a bad idea.

Meanwhile, three days before the governor’s campaign letter, the Puget Sound Partnership released their 2021 State of the Sound report which notes that “the trendlines are in the wrong direction.” The report notes that 23 of the 2020 targets for Puget Sound health are below the target, with only five “Near or At” the target.

Regarding salmon, the report notes that, “Puget Sound Chinook salmon, also a threatened species, remain at historic lows and have not experienced significant population changes since they were listed in 1999.”

In Puget Sound and the Snake River, science-based reports have been consistent in their conclusions. The federal agencies have repeatedly found that destroying the Snake River dams does not make sense. Studies on Puget Sound consistently show we are not making progress. To ensure that we not only have a future with salmon, but improving salmon populations, we need to focus our efforts on the Puget Sound, where the resources and attention are needed most.

The governor’s fundraising letter appears to indicate that the pressures of politics and fundraising will override those science-based conclusions.

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