To the Editor:
I am opposed to Idaho Power’s request to build a multimegawatt power line from Boardman to Hemingway, Idaho, near Boise.
When I was younger, we caught steelhead and salmon in the Powder River Canyon, on Big Creek, Lick Creek, Velvet Creek, Skookum Creek. Kids with fly rods could catch dozens of fish during the day. We didn’t know much about fisheries, just being farm kids, but those trout that we caught all day long were steelhead smolts, and the smaller ones in the evening were salmon smolts.
Things started downhill with the approval of the Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon dams with no fish ladders in 1958. Much money was saved to supply cheaper power to the region, and it is cheaper if you discount blocking hundreds of miles of anadromous fish producing streams. That deficit is made up for with hatcheries that are financed partly by a surcharge on electric bills. Destruction of riparian zone habitat was supposed to be mitigated by Idaho Power, and somehow they forgot to do that for almost 50 years until the relicensing process was about to begin.
One thing that is not mentioned on the B2H line: It does not end at Hemingway. It will connect with other power grids. We used to call this as the Western intertie. Modern efficient power generation and distribution, designed by the same people who lined up all the battle ships and airplanes at Pearl Harbor. All the eggs in one basket where one smart guy with a computer can make a third of the United States go dark.
For decades we have fought over the management of BPA hydroelectric power on the Columbia dams. Any power distribution scheme that could alter the balance of salmon and steelhead and sturgeon is just begging for an Endangered Species Act lawsuit. If that doesn’t scare the B2H advocates, then there is the Treaty of 1855 and the Bolt Decision and tribal rights.
The Hells Canyon Complex with no passage was one of the biggest environmental blunders ever. Compounding that with the biggest white elephant power scheme is not real smart.