New NW Poll: Support for Hydropower Remains Strong, Region-Wide, Northwest River Partners, April 7, 2015

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Despite ongoing anti-dam campaign, a growing majority say the lower Snake River dams are essential to the Northwest’s energy picture


Portland, Ore.— A new poll from independent public opinion firm DHM Research shows strong and growing support for a balanced approach to protecting both the Northwest’s iconic fish and the federal hydropower system that provides 60 percent of the region’s energy and 90 percent of its renewable energy.

Seventy-seven percent of Northwest residents told pollsters that it is critical for hydropower dams and salmon to co-exist, up from 73 percent in 2014.

“The numbers are clear: Most Northwest residents recognize that hydropower, and all of our federal dams that produce it, are vital to this region’s energy mix and to our renewable energy future,” said Terry Flores, executive director of Northwest RiverPartners, an alliance of utilities, ports, farming organizations, and businesses that commissioned the poll.

What’s more, despite a multi-year campaign to remove four federal dams on the lower Snake River, support for these dams is very strong – at 70 percent – and grew by 10 percent since 2014.

A minority of residents, 10 percent, said the Snake River dams should come out. That is slightly less support for removal than existed in 2014, despite a major uptick in anti-dam activity during the same time period.

Portland’s DHM Research, with over 30 years of experience in public opinion research and polling, conducted the independent survey of 1,200 residents in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The poll was taken in February 2015—on the heels of a national publicity tour for an anti-hydropower film that played to many Northwest audiences combined with online petition efforts calling for removal of the lower Snake River dams.

Despite the strong public support for hydropower and huge improvements in salmon abundance over the past decade, including a modern-day record of 2.5 million adult salmon returning in 2014, anti-hydro forces continue to litigate to drive up the costs of hydro operations to achieve their dam removal agenda. Fish advocates and commercial fishing groups are currently suing over a federal salmon plan that minimizes the impacts on salmon and includes over $1 billion in habitat restoration funds.

“The Columbia and Snake river dams provide irreplaceable benefits to the Northwest: flood control, irrigation, a river highway for goods, recreation and enough electricity to meet 60 percent of the power needs of Northwest homes and businesses, without adding to global warming,” Flores said. “We can protect the salmon and preserve a healthy hydro system, and these poll results show that a majority of Northwest residents agree and want to do both.”[/vc_column_text][vc_button title=”Click here to download the press release” target=”_self” color=”wpb_button” icon=”none” size=”wpb_regularsize” href=””][vc_button title=”Click here to download the Final 2015 Poll Results Handout” target=”_self” color=”wpb_button” icon=”none” size=”wpb_regularsize” href=””][/vc_column][/vc_row]