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River RepublicThe Fall and Rise of America's Rivers$
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Daniel McCool

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161312

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161312.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Falling Waters

Falling Waters

Hydropower and Renewable Energy

(p.105) 5 Falling Waters
River Republic

Daniel McCool

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how hydropower and renewable energy diminished the value of American rivers as a whole and instead allocated them to narrow, extractive uses. There is an ongoing debate about whether hydropower should be considered “renewable” energy and lumped in with other green sources, such as wind and solar. On the one hand, the “fuel” for hydro is water, which renews itself as precipitation. On the other hand, dams have a finite life, reservoirs fill with silt, and hydro dams can have devastating effects on riverine environments. Nonfederal hydropower in the United States is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has enormous power over the fate of rivers. This chapter considers the politics and legal history of the conflict between fish—specifically salmon and steelhead smolts—and four hydro dams on the lower Snake River in the Columbia River Basin.

Keywords:   hydropower, renewable energy, rivers, hydro dams, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, politics, salmon, steelhead smolts, Snake River, Columbia River Basin

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