Fish Power


Filed Under Outside the Track on Oct 27 

One of the great modern debates is just how to generate the power necessary to run this nation. The United States is literally the Saudi Arabia of coal. Chances are the power you’re using to read this post began its life as some sort of dinosaur whose life was snuffed out and whose grave was subsequently plundered by a dirty stinking filthy coal mining conglomerate. It was then hauled by a sooty diesel locomotive to a power plant were the remains of said dinosaur were subsequently pulverized and burned.

Yeah, I used to run coal trains for a living. But I digress.

Today it seems everybody wants to get on the green bandwagon. We recycle. We buy hideously expensive hybrid vehicles. We celebrate Earth Day. So maybe you’ll understand why I found this photo exposé on the demolition of a Vancouver, Washington hydro electric dam to be so surprising.

For nearly a century, the Condit Dam has generated electricity for the surrounding communities. Granted, its not very much – 14 megawatts which translates into enough juice to run about 7,000 homes. That said, those 7,000 homes aren’t burning dead dinosaurs to keep the lights on. As far as I can tell, the dam was in good working order and had no major repair needs. In other words, it wasn’t broken.

Yet, yesterday explosive experts blew it to smithereens. Why? I’m glad you asked. Evidently the almighty Federal Government was going to require some “fish passage structures” to be installed on the dam in order to re-license it. The cost of doing so, in the opinion of PacifiCorp, was more than the dam was worth. Therefore they decided to blow it up rather than conform to the orders of the almighty Fed.

Now I’m no expert in the Washington State electric grid, but I don’t know if they have an extra 14 megawatts of clean hydro power they can re-route to fill the capacity lost by the Condit Dam demise. But I’d say there’s a better than even chance that 14 megawatts is going to be provided by the ever present and plentiful coal fires.

What I’m wondering is whether or not the loan sharks over at the Team Obama’s Department of Energy would find it more beneficial to have thrown $500 million at this dam rather than shoveling it down the rat hole of Solyndra and the other green-power-bankruptcies-waiting-to-happen. At least then the taxpayers would see some megawatts generated from their money.

Don’t get me wrong. I like salmon. Preferably fried in butter. But given the choice? I’ll keep the lights on.


  • Chris

    For me it comes to money again, why is it generally that a climate change sceptic is also a conservative? I have assumed it was down to money, a view that “green” products are going to be more expensive and green policies lead to more taxes

    I am personally not an environmental expert, neither I imagine are the majority on here, we rely on the experts, but all we are really good at doing is listening to the experts whose views we already hold and ridicule those who don’t

    Personally I dont know about the rights or wrongs of climate change, but I do think this; if people are climate change deniers because they dont think it holds up scientifically then that is a legitimate argument, but if they are deniers because they are worried about how much it is going to cost them, then I can’t think or anything more un-American or inhuman

  • Troy La Mana

    There is no stopping the utility from building a larger capacity dam to replace the one they blew up.

    Then there is the whole debate on whether “fossil fuel” really is created from decomposed dinosaurs or is in fact renewable.

    Finally, we are going to run into trouble with nuclear power since someone just found a real Simpsons three eyed fish downstream from a nuke plant.

  • Steve Feinstein

    This falls into the category of something I wrote about many years ago called, “Trees vs. People.”

    Essentially, most people are in favor of conservation efforts and initiatives, until/unless it negatively impacts them directly.

    Then you will hear that ever-popular refrain of “That’s different.”

    No, it’s not different. You’re just a hypocrite.

    It’s easy to be in favor of some abstract do-good effort as long as there is no personal negative effect. The number of high-profile celebs/politicians/spokespeople for these various causes who on their own time take private jets, live in large energy-hogging houses, live a recklessly-consuming lifestyle, etc. is amazing. Not all of them, of course, But a very significant number.

    This matter is akin to those in favor—in the abstract—of programs like Affirmative Action, which they’re all for, until their precious little 16 year-old prodigy gets passed over for admittance because of something other than pure qualifications for the entry spot.

    Then once again you’ll hear, “That’s different.”