Lower Snake River Dams: Economic Tradeoffs of Removal

Economic Tradeoffs of Removing the Lower Snake River Dams

The debate regarding the potential removal of the four Lower Snake River dams in Washington has been ongoing for over two decades, but much of the existing information is either outdated or incomplete. To provide an up-to-date and comprehensive perspective on this issue, ECONorthwest compiled the recent literature and conducted a benefit-cost analysis and economic impact analysis of removing the dams. 

The results of the analysis suggest that society will incur some costs from dam removal due to lost barge transportation and effects on grid services, but the public benefits relative to costs strongly justify removing the Lower Snake River Dams. In other words, the benefits of dam removal are large enough to fully compensate individuals or industries that could experience costs if the dams are removed.

An important component of this analysis is the incorporation of non-use values (i.e., the extent to which the public values a restored natural river system and reduced extinction risk of wild salmon). This analysis highlights the importance of including non-use values in future evaluations of the Lower Snake River dams.  

View Executive Summary here.

View report here.

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