Apr 16, 2016
Western Livestock Journal.net
April 11, 2016
—Signing comes despite local opposition
Federal agencies, California, Oregon, and a corporation owned by Warren Buffet bucked local opposition last Wednesday when they signed two agreements aimed at removing four major dams along the Klamath River. According to local opponents, the finalization of the agreements was premature and excluded input from the public and affected stakeholders.
The Counties of Klamath and Siskiyou (the home of the dams) and local water-use groups such as the Klamath Irrigation District and Siskiyou Water Users Association are saying that Pacifi- Corp—Buffet’s company, which owns the dams—teamed up with the agencies, Native American tribes, and environmental groups to push for dam removal. According to Siskiyou County Supervisor Ray Haupt, the removals are expected to cost $550 million, all funded by ratepayers and the public; result in a major tax break for PacifiCorp; and leave the company liability-free.
“All while offing PacifiCorp’s liability and operational costs on the very public who is most negatively affected by dam removal,” Haupt added when speaking to WLJ.
In a prepared statement Wednesday, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell called the two agreements a “shared vision” that is “an important initial step” toward “longterm restoration and sustainability for tribes, fisheries, and agriculture and water users across the Klamath Basin.”
But while Jewell’s statement sounds promising for all stakeholders, local voices are making clear that the “shared vision” of dam removal is not universal, and that the agreements as drafted may not ensure either restoration of the river or sustainability of water use on the Klamath.
According to Lawrence Kogan, attorney for the Klamath Irrigation District, his client was “stonewalled” from participating in the drafting of either of the freshly signed agreements. Kogan says this was a clear violation of procedure, since the district is an original signatory to one of them, the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).
KHSA started out as a water allocation agreement that required congressional approval. But several officials from the federal and state agencies and PacifiCorp have since been quietly making edits, so that the KHSA now contains a plan to remove the four dams without congressional approval. Kogan pointed out that the district has not been allowed to participate in those edits, or even have adequate time to read drafts. He notified the agencies that this violation of process places the district in a position to litigate the agreement.
The second agreement finalized Wednesday was, until recently, a mystery document, Kogan said. The Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement (KPFA), he said, was produced “entirely behind closed doors.” He said the agreement “guarantees fish and aboriginal tribal water right priorities at the expense of irrigator water rights,” while at the same time making “weak promises” to irrigators that they will not be harmed by Endangered Species Act regulations in the event that the dam removals result in federally-protected fish migrating into new areas.
Supervisor Haupt agreed with Kogan that the KPFA’s promises of protections for irrigators can’t be upheld.
“This agreement makes no water guarantees to farmers,” Haupt told WLJ. “Nor can it stop outside environmental groups from suing farmers when the ‘threatened’ Coho salmon doesn’t have enough water in the Upper Basin. And that scenario is likely, given that the historical evidence shows that the Upper Basin was never good Coho habitat in the first place.”
He added that new Clean Water Act regulations would undoubtedly come into play should the dams be removed. Currently, the dams catch and collect toxins— both naturally occurring and those added by agriculture and other uses—preventing them from entering California from Oregon.
Despite the agreements’ weaknesses, however, PacifiCorp and the agencies are finding ways to either “bribe or coerce” parties into supporting them, Kogan told WLJ. For example, he said, when Oregon granted the Native American tribes on the Klamath senior water rights “from time immemorial,” it forced irrigators to negotiate with the tribes, who are pushing for dam removal. In another example, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is forcing the Klamath Irrigation District to make repairs to a large irrigation canal, the “C Canal Flume,” and to accept an unwieldy BOR financing agreement. Negotiations seem to be contingent on the district’s support for the KHSA and dam removal, Kogan said.
“It all came clear when Senators [Ron] Wyden [D- OR] and [Jeff] Merkley [D- OR] introduced their legislation that links it all together: support for the KHSA; funding for the C Canal Flume; and recognition of tribal water rights,” Kogan told WLJ. “They want to make dam removal and continued farming in the basin a package deal.”
More opposition and danger
Other local bodies are complaining of being left out of the agreement drafting process as well. Last Tuesday, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors issued a letter to DOI and California Governor Jerry Brown stating they had “just learned” that a small group of stakeholders intended to sign a new agreement (the KPFA) on Wednesday.
“The sheer fact that Siskiyou County is home to 68 percent of the Klamath River frontage tells you our well-documented local concerns should have been included in the planning process,” Haupt told WLJ. “But they were not.”
WLJ spoke with Haupt about the expected economic and environmental effects of dam removal in his county. He said the dams provide enough power for 70,000 houses per year—a significant number in rural northern California and southern Oregon. Dam removal is expected to cause regional energy rates to skyrocket. Siskiyou County also expects several million in annual economic losses; Klamath County estimates around $0.5 million in losses.
The predicted environmental damage is perhaps most striking. While Brown said last Wednesday that signing the agreements was an act of “healing this river,” Haupt said the government’s own analysis predicts the opposite. He referenced a biological assessment prepared in 2010 by the federal agencies themselves, which reveals that the four dams’ removal method will result in “complete sterilization of all aquatic life for a minimum of two years” in the Klamath River, due to the roughly 20 million cubic yards of sediment that will be flushed into the river. Haupt said the report even admits dam removal will wipe out an entire generation of the federally-listed Coho salmon—the very fish that is being touted as the reason for the dams’ removal. This is a “clear, egregious violation” of the Endangered Species Act, he said.
“The agencies have this information in their hands, and yet they’re forging ahead,” Haupt told WLJ.
“Never mind the facts, never mind that 80 percent of the Siskiyou County’s electorate has voted against removing the dams. There are a few powerful players who want this [dam removal]. We fully intend to fight against this environmental and economic abomination put upon the taxpaying ratepayers of Siskiyou County.”
— Theodora Johnson, WLJ Correspondent
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Apr 10, 2016
We the people will hold our own symbolic signing of an AGREEMENT to save and protect four Klamath hydro-electic dams from destruction.
A rally for photo and signing will be held on
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Front of Siskiyou Co Court House at
311 4th Street, Yreka, Ca
Please attend and sign the Agreement to save the dams!
California and Oregon Governors along with federal agencies have ignored Siskiyou County and We the People. The dams must stay in !!!
Bring your family, friends and neighbors.
Apr 6, 2016
From: Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors
April 5, 2016
The Honorable Sally Jewell Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street,
N.W. Washington. D.C. 20240
The Honorable Jerry Brown Governor of California
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: New Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement
Dear Secretary Jewell and Governor Brown:
We have just learned that a subset of parties to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement which is an even smaller group than the significant stakeholders in the Klamath Watershed – intend to sign a new amendment to the hydroelectric agreement on April 6. It is sad and ironic that an agreement that started out to address fish and water supplies in the Upper Basin has degenerated into something where the main focus is the removal of four dams on the lower river and water supply reliability is unaddressed.
This attempt to breathe new life into the failed efforts of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement in a futile action in the last year of the Obama Administration is yet another misguided waste of time and resources for everyone with an interest in securing the future of water supplies, water quality, and sustainable fisheries in the Klamath Basin.
The lawsuits are already lined up and ready to define the next significant era of water/politics for the Klamath River. The ham-handed handling of this latest effort (with “secret” meetings, lack of transparency, and lack of authority, to name the most obvious examples) to force some parties’ one-and-only solution on the Klamath Basin has only provided even more gist for the legal battle that will come. The blatant violation of the federal Endangered Species Act and the potential extirpation of the coho salmon from the Klamath River is only the most egregious violation of federal law.
We urge you to rethink your course of action and to not let the intransigence of certain advocates condemn us to yet another wasted decade. Please do not sign yet another unauthorized and incomplete agreement to once again raise false hope that a real and lasting Klamath River fix is finally at hand when a real solution is still desperately needed.
Grace Bennett Chair, Board of Supervisors
Brandon Criss , District I
Ed Valenzuela, District 2
Michael Kobseff , District 3
Grace Bennett, District 4
Ray A. Haupt, District 5