January 13, 2020
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Rally planned as hundreds attend discussion to highlight costs and impacts of dam breaching



A public rally in support of preserving the four lower Snake River dams is planned for this afternoon and evening. The "Know the Dam Facts" rally will immediately precede a planned public workshop about possibly removing the dams. U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, both R-WA, will give video messages in support of the dams during the rally.

The rally comes in response to Gov. Insleeā€™s Lower Snake River Dams Stakeholder Engagement Draft Report, which was released in late December and has prompted renewed concerns over potential breaching of the four Lower Snake River dams.

A meeting last week on the subject in Clarkston brought out more than 300 people. During a panel discussion at that meeting, Bill Newbry, president and chief operating officer of the Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative, said if farmers and shippers are being asked to consider the possibility of breaching the dams, they first need to see an upgrade in rail and highway infrastructure.

Alex McGregor of The McGregor Co. agreed, saying that removing the dams and the barge transportation they enable would require 43,000 more rail cars and as many as 167,000 new semi-truck loads.

A new study details the costs that would come with removing the dams, including increased commodity transportation costs of $2.3 billion over the next three decades. The study finds that governments would need to spend $1.6 billion in rail and highway infrastructure to compensate for river transportation that would be lost if the dams were removed. Meanwhile, increased rail and highway traffic would add 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide and other emissions annually. The study is online here.

When it comes to electrical generation, the dams play a key role in supporting the grid through key baseload generation, especially during certain times of year, said Birgit Koehler of the Bonneville Power Administration. Their power can't simply be replaced with solar and wind, she said, adding that those alternate sources are already being tapped to replace coal and natural gas plants that are being retired.

The Lewiston Tribune has a full report on the meeting.

Contact Peter Godlewski, AWB government affairs director for energy policy, to learn more.

(Photo via The Lewiston Tribune)



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Effective Workforce Education

Path to apprenticeships now starts at high school

By Nate Nehring, a Snohomish County Council member

A four-year university education can be valuable for some, but many could benefit from greater access to pathways into the trades. While many college graduates now work minimum wage jobs and are burdened with student debt, high-paying trades jobs with competitive benefits sit empty.

In Snohomish County, we are working proactively to increase access to family-wage careers. Over the last two years, we have built a coalition of representatives from labor, industry and education. Community leaders from these sectors have come together to talk about how we can work together to provide meaningful solutions to the problem of a workforce shortage. What began as a group of stakeholders around a table has resulted in the creation of the Regional Apprenticeship Pathways (RAP) Program, which is being hailed as a potential statewide model for workforce development.

As a result of in-depth discussions between sectors and site tours of existing workforce development programs, the concept of a pre-apprenticeship program within the high school setting was organically produced. There currently exists several state-certified apprenticeship programs for a variety of skilled trades, from carpenters to electricians to laborers. What has been lacking is a pipeline of students with the basic skills and confidence to pursue these apprenticeship programs. The average apprentice is in his or her late 20s before beginning a program, representing an entire lost decade of post-high school productivity. As a group, our goal has been to bridge that 10-year gap...

Read the full guest column in The (Everett) Herald