I must take issue with some of the assertions of John Hairston, the administrator and CEO of the Bonneville Power Administration in “Preserve hydropower’s role in clean-energy future” [March 28, Opinion]:
Hairston describes hydropower as “clean” multiple times in his article, and refers to hydropower as “carbon-free.” One has to agree that hydropower has a lower present impact to worldwide carbon dioxide than burning fossil fuels. The description of hydropower as “carbon-free,” however, does not take into account the construction of the infrastructure required to produce that hydropower. The production of cement produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide. A 2020 article in Scientific American states that “ … if cement production were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter after China and the U.S.” The Grand Coulee Dam alone used 12 million cubic yards of concrete in its construction.
When hydropower is touted as “carbon-free,” the carbon dioxide generation of the construction of the generating and distribution of hydropower has to be taken into account. Low carbon-producing electric-generating alternatives (with lower impacts to other resources such as salmon) are available. Please consider all the variables in the equation before reaching a conclusion on the best source of electricity.
Larry Franks, Issaquah