When the Governor of Alaska, on July 25, 2011, signed a bill to build a dam on the glacier-fed Susitna River, the State had already been planning for months.
The Susitna Dam would become, if built, the fourth tallest dam in the western hemisphere. The Susitna River, America’s 15th largest by volume, flows unimpeded for 300 miles from glacial mountains through one of the planet’s last wild landscapes to meet the Pacific near Anchorage.
The only reason to build the Susitna Dam is to make electricity. The State of Alaska decided to build the dam because the natural gas that now supplies the electricity was said to be running out. It’s not. The State now admits that those gas supplies exist, but the dam is being pushed so fast and so hard by the current administration that the truth is obscured. “The dam could increase salmon runs!” is one of the many deceptions the State is spinning. The State has budgeted $500,000 per year for “media relations and advocacy assistance” in order to make the dam seem like a good idea.
So why even imagine a preposterously massive dam in Alaska’s heart 40 miles from an active earthquake fault on a wild river of dense salmon runs where visitors from around the world come to experience grandeur? Why create a 22,000 acre reservoir that will flood caribou migration routes and grizzly bear habitat? Why spend 5 or 8 billion dollars for something that’s unnecessary? The Governor of Alaska’s answer is, “It’s time to hit the ball down the fairway, to go big or go home.”
Our answer is that there are better alternatives for electricity. (see Dam Alternatives) The Alaskan equivalent of China’s troubled Three Gorges Dam is not a wise choice. (see Dam Problems) Our great-great-great grandchildren need to have left for them to experience the grandeur and mystery that the Susitna watershed now holds.
(next page: Dam Alternatives )
The Coalition for Susitna Dam Alternatives exists to help establish sustaining sources of electricity that cumulatively will produce more energy than the Susitna Dam at far less cost with none of the catastrophic risks.