Skip to content

Colorado River Update: U.S. EPA Includes Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Dams in UN Climate Reporting For First Time

Hi Friends of the Colorado River,

We excited to announce that our “Tell The Dam Truth” campaign, in conjunction with the outdoor company Patagonia, has achieved one victory in our ongoing work to protect rivers by opposing dams and hydropower.

Last year, for the first time in history, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported the greenhouse gas emissions from dams and reservoirs to the United Nation’s IPCC framework. Further, it appears that the U.S. may be the first country in the world to actually take these emissions seriously and report them to the United Nations. The Revelator News has the story posted here.

This EPA report is a major step forward in recognizing the massive negative environmental impacts that dams have on rivers and the water cycle across the planet. Further, dams make climate change worse by spewing out greenhouse gas emissions.

“To our knowledge, the U.S. is the first country to include estimates of methane emissions from flooded lands in our greenhouse gas inventory,” the EPA press office told The Revelator.

When vegetation decays under stagnant reservoirs, it creates methane — an extremely potent greenhouse gas — which then bubbles off the surface of a reservoir or is released through hydropower turbines. In some cases, the greenhouse gases released from dams and reservoirs can rival that of a coal-fired powerplant. In fact, the emissions from Lake Mead and Hoover Dam on the Colorado River are estimated to equal that of a coal-fired powerplant.

I told The Revelator, “It’s a big deal and we’re very happy the EPA’s doing it. And we’re looking for the next step, which is refinement in the modeling.”

The vast negative impact of dams on the health of rivers, on fisheries, and on human rights has long been known. In fact:

  • Dams Block Rivers – and Block Migrating Fish, Sediment, Nutrients, and Water.
  • Dams Slow Rivers – Changes Ecology, Water Temperature, Sediment, Habitat.
  • Dams Almost Always Make Water Quality Worse.
  • Dams Can Cause Extinction to Fish and Aquatic Life.
  • Dams harm, and often significantly reduce, Biodiversity
  • Dams Displace People and cause human rights violations.
  • Dams are Exorbitantly Expensive.
  • Dams can make river-bank and floodplain flooding worse.
  • Dams exacerbate coastal flooding, beach erosion, and sea level rise.
  • Dams increase disease in humans.

And now add to that list: DAMS MAKE CLIMATE CHANGE WORSE.

We thrilled to be working with Patagonia on this Tell The Dam Truth campaign. Stay tuned for more action!

Thank you for your supportyou can donate online by clicking here.

Back To Top