EcoDependent | The Dam Truth
TV Mini Series | Documentary
Dam Truth is a three part docuseries that outlines how Idaho can get its salmon and steelhead populations back from the brink of extinction.
Part of a collection of nature-based, documentary mini-series that identify and confront environmental challenges.
Writers: Steve Liebenthal
Producers: Tashia Yeates-Brumfield, Steve Liebenthal, Jacob Brumfield
Host: Steve Liebenthal
The Dam Truth | Sockeye in Trouble
The Dam Truth | The Oxbow Accident
CO\\OP Studios explores an outrageous wrong in the Pacific Northwest where antiquated businesses and failed energy policies endanger sacred tribal traditions, ecosystems, and the future of several aquatic species.
The Dam Truth
In this three part miniseries, Edward R Murrow Award winning journalist Steve Liebenthal reveals an ecological crisis in the Columbia Basin as multiple species of salmon teeter on the brink of extinction.
A conservative Republican congressman puts his political career on the line, siding with environmentalists and tribes who are demanding the removal of four massive hydroelectric dams on the Snake River.
Who stands in the way of the 34 billion dollar plan to keep Snake River salmon from disappearing forever?
Some consider it the most important political issue in the Pacific Northwest. For decades, the number of salmon and steelhead returning to their pristine Idaho spawning grounds has slowly declined. Environmentalists and Native Americans have been beating the warning drum since the 1970s, pleading with the feds to step in and implement an obvious solution. But few in Washington D.C. have listened – until now.
Idaho’s anadromous fish have found an unlikely champion in Republican Congressman Mike Simpson, who spent two years studying the situation. His conclusion? Four massive hydroelectric dams on the Lower Snake River must be removed if Snake River salmon are to avoid extinction. The governors of both Oregon and Washington agree.
Won’t breaching the dams create an energy crisis? Without the energy the dams generate, won’t electricity prices skyrocket? Economist Anthony Jones says no. Jones was appointed by three successive governors to study the economics of salmon and energy in the Northwest.
“Those dams lose on the order of fifty to one million dollars every year,” says Jones. “If the Bonneville Power Administration was a private company, there would be bulldozers at Lower Granite Dam right now.”
And while salmon populations continue to slowly dwindle away, Jones says Bonneville Power customers sometimes pay as much as three times the going market rate for electricity. Congressman Simpson says his plan would save salmon by removing dams. The plan would also compensate the few who benefit from the antiquated system. His challenge: convince a majority in congress to approve 34 billion dollars in taxpayer money to save Idaho salmon.