Republicans criticize spill of dam water to help salmon

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Republican members of Congress from the Pacific Northwest are upset with a federal judge’s order to spill water from four Snake River dams to help speed migrating salmon to the Pacific Ocean.

They’re denouncing the spill and related efforts to permanently breach the four dams to increase wild salmon runs. The spill began on April 3.

The four dams were built in the 1960s and 1970s. Supporters note that they provide hydropower, flood control, navigation, irrigation and recreation benefits. But the giant dams are also blamed for killing wild salmon, an iconic species in the Northwest.

The GOP says the increased spill will cost some $40 million in lost power sales. It also says the spill could hurt transportation and barging on the rivers, flood control and irrigation systems.

But Democrats argue studies of the dams, including whether they should be removed, must go forward.