Breaching dams to save Northwest orcas contentious issue

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Calls to breach four hydroelectric dams in Washington state have grown louder in recent months as the plight of the critically endangered Northwest orcas has captured global attention.

Some argue the quickest way to get more fish to the starving salmon-eating whales is to tear down four dams on the Lower Snake River, a tributary of the Columbia River.

Others say the dams provide many benefits to the region in hydropower, navigation and recreation.

Breaching the dams has long been contentious, but it’s gained renewed attention as the orcas have hit the lowest numbers in more than three decades. The whales struggle from pollution, boat noise and lack of chinook salmon.

A task force called by Gov. Jay Inslee is coming up with potential solutions to address those three threats. At a meeting Thursday, there was little consensus on the dam removal issue.