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Scott Valley Protect Our Water – POW – in Siskiyou County, California
Jul 20, 2012
PNP comment: Remember the whole intent of this attitude is to throw a cog or two in the wheel. The ultimate goal is to make life difficult for those who are not tribal leaders or Greenies; and to get the four hydro-electric dams destroyed from the Klamath River. — Editor Liz Bowen
Megan Hansen/The Times-Standard
Posted: 07/20/2012 09:22:43 AM PDT
Relicensing of the four Klamath River dams has been put on hold for another year, giving dam owner PacifiCorp more time to see a 2010 dam removal agreement enacted by federal legislation.
On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously to continue staying the relicensing process through June 30, 2013, despite protests by the Hoopa and Resighini tribes. The tribes believe PacifiCorp is stalling the process of un-daming the river.
Hoopa Valley Tribal Council member Hayley Hutt said 80 to 100 people protested outside the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Sacramento on Tuesday. She said the tribe wants the dams to go through the Clean Water Act certification process, so the toxic algae in the river is dealt with and fish passage is improved.
”The initial dam license was issued 50 years ago, at which time they had no environmental laws,” Hutt said. “To be licensed, they’d have to meet the new water quality laws.”
Since 2010, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s relicensing process for the dams — which includes compliance with the state Clean Water Act — has been placed on hold by the water control board at PacifiCorp’s request. The company and supporters of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement — which aims to remove the dams in 2020 — don’t want the relicensing process to move forward if the dams are coming out in eight years.
PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely said it
doesn’t make sense to go through the expensive and time-consuming relicensing process if Congress chooses to adopt legislation supporting dam removal.
”We’re not going to carry out relicensing steps that would add a bunch of additional costs,” Gravely said. “We can either relicense the dams or implement the settlement agreement.”
An alliance of Native American tribes, environmentalists, farmers, fishermen and government officials are waiting for Congress to pass legislation that’s already been introduced that allows the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine whether the dams should come down.
Gravely said the company is frustrated with the federal government’s pace, but that money is already being collected from energy customers to fund dam removal activities. He said the company can’t charge its customers to both upgrade the dams and remove them.
”Just because Congress hasn’t passed legislation at this point is no reason to put the brakes in place,” Gravely said, adding that more than $36 million has been collected in dam removal surcharges.
Craig Tucker, the Klamath coordinator for the Karuk Tribe, said all the North Coast tribes seem to want the dams to come out, but that there’s a sharp contrast in how the Hoopa and Resighini tribes want to get there. If the state water board had directed PacifiCorp to undergo the relicensing process, he said a series of lawsuits would likely be triggered.
”It would’ve dashed our chances of ever removing those dams,” Tucker said, adding that the issue would likely have to go before the U.S. Supreme Court.
He said the process would be a long, drawn-out one in which PacifiCorp might have to increase energy rates just to fund its costs to litigate the issue.
While Congress isn’t moving as quickly as settlement agreement supporters would like, Tucker said progress is being made and that things haven’t stalled out on Capitol Hill.
”We’re having briefings with legislators,” Tucker said.