Save Freshwater Species: Stop Damming America’s Rivers

Target: Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Goal: Conduct dam impact studies and prevent unnecessary damming to save freshwater species.

Hundreds of freshwater species will become extinct because of seven dams built between the headwaters of Alabama’s Coosa River and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. With 40 species already lost forever, the Coosa River dams are often cited as the single greatest cause of extinctions in the history of the United States. Most of the area power companies’ licenses to maintain and operate the dams last for 40 or 50 years. We must limit dam construction to allow endangered species to recover in the Coosa and other similar rivers.

A recent World Wildlife Fund report titled “Seven Sins of Dam Building” reported that although Alabama’s Coosa River was once one of the most biologically diverse rivers in the world, it has very few free flowing stretches left today. Although the river still has fifty-four species of freshwater mussels, 110 species of snails, and 147 species of fish, the risk of species extinction increases with the renewal of dam licensing.

The Coosa dams, which are operated by Alabama Power, are up for re-licensing this year by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Most dam licenses are effective for several decades, so evolving species and climate change concerns can’t be taken into account. The FERC must establish “minimum flow” rules at dams like the ones at Coosa to lessen the environmental impact.

According to the World Wildlife Fund study, “FERC has refused to require Alabama Power to conduct critical studies that could lead to the recovery of imperiled fish and wildlife. Without the data these studies could provide, FERC’s finding that the project does not have a significant impact on the environment is unfounded.”

Sign the below petition to urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate the environmental impact of the Coosa dams to save endangered species.

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Dear Mr. Wellinghoff,

The damming of Alabama’s Coosa River has led to the extinction of over forty freshwater species. Not only is this statistic embarrassing, it also predicts the future of surviving species if the region’s dams are not controlled. You must ensure that Alabama Power conducts environmental studies to gauge the impact of their dams before approving license renewal.

I am urging you to work with Alabama Power to establish minimum flow rules in the Coosa and incorporate fish ladders to help migrating species move upstream to the Gulf of Mexico. The freshwater species in the Coosa, and all of America’s rivers, depend upon you for protection.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: J.smith via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. J Davidson says:

    The more we destroy our ecology, the more we destroy ourselves.

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