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Bonneville Dam Hailed On 50th Anniversary

August 9, 1987

BONNEVILLE, Ore. (AP) _ Sen. Mark Hatfield says the Bonneville Dam should serve as an example of energy self-reliance to a world vulnerable to disruptions of Middle East oil supplies.

Speaking to about 1,000 people at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Columbia River hydroelectric project on Saturday, the Oregon Republican said tension between ″haves″ and ″have nots″ is increasing.

″Nowhere is the saber-rattling louder, or the stakes higher, than in the Middle East,″ he said. ″For while religious and political turmoil rock the ground above, below it lies the liquid drug to which the free world is addicted - oil.″

Hatfield called the Bonneville Dam a ″laboratory where the production of an environmentally safe, a renewable, a low-cost, and an abundant energy source - hydro power - is proven possible.″

His comments came at a joint celebration of the golden anniversary of the Bonneville Dam and the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets electricity from 30 federal dams.

Dozens of the construction workers who helped build the dam and others involved in administration and planning of the landmark federal project were in the audience at Saturday’s celebration.

Other speakers at Saturday’s re-dedication ceremony credited the dam with boosting the Pacific Northwest economy during the depths of the Depression, providing low-cost electricity to the region.

Shortly before the observance began, Northwest Indians ended a 50-hour vigil intended to illustrate the losses of fishing sites and places of cultural importance suffered by tribes as a result of Bonneville Dam and other BPA hydro projects.

BPA Administrator James Jura said progress was being made toward restoring salmon and steelhead runs hurt by the dams.

″Last year’s fish runs were the best we’ve seen in some time,″ Jura said. ″We’re beginning to improve that situation.″

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