Hydropower Dams Won’t Fix Warming World
American Rivers Submits Testimony to House Water and Power SubcommitteeJune 12th, 2008
Andrew Fahlund, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 x3022
John Seebach, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 x3055
Washington, DC - Hydropower dams aren’t a “silver bullet” when it comes to fighting global warming, and healthy rivers will become increasingly valuable to wildlife and human communities in a warming world, American Rivers said today in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Water and Power Subcommittee.
In the hearing on the current and future energy mix of the United States, American Rivers emphasized that hydropower dams will continue to play a role, but that they must be sited and operated in a way that supports the health of rivers and communities.
Andrew Fahlund, Vice President for Conservation at American Rivers, made the following statement:
“Making smart energy choices is more important than ever. Hydropower dams will continue to play a role serving our nation’s energy needs, but they aren’t a silver bullet solution to the problem of global warming. In some cases, hydro dams may even make the problem worse.”
“Global warming affects every American river and therefore, every American community. We know that the future holds more intense floods and droughts. The question is how to make our rivers and communities more resilient in the face of these big changes. The answer lies in protecting and restoring healthy rivers.”
“Hydropower dams may not generate as much global warming pollution as coal, but they can have staggering impacts on a river’s health. It isn’t fair or just when a dam harms clean water, or prevents a community from enjoying its river and the many economic benefits that come from river recreation and healthy fish and wildlife.”
“It is folly to believe that building new hydropower dams will solve our energy problems. All of the best hydropower sites were developed decades ago. Many of the sites that remain were rejected because development was simply too expensive or because the costs to local communities or the environment was too high.”
“Not all dams are created equal. Each dam has its own balance of costs and benefits. There are hundreds of cases where a dam’s operations have been improved to boost the health of the river. There have been other cases where a dam’s economic and environmental impacts were simply too high, and the dam was removed to restore the river. Dam removal will remain an option for communities with outdated or harmful dams.”