Delaying Klamath Dam Removal is Criminal
By Felice Pace, Eureka Times-Standard
December 5, 2008
How long do you have to study something? PacifiCorp, the federal government and the states have been studying Klamath dams for nearly a decade and Klamath Fisheries Task Force agencies studied the Klamath River for 20 years! If dam removal waits another 12 years Klamath salmon runs will likely be all but gone.
This is what happens when you let the Bush administration and a company owned by powerful financial interests negotiate a deal behind closed doors. Now tribes, fishing and environmental groups which worked for 30 years to clean up the Klamath and restore salmon are being told they must accept the deal if they want to get into the room to negotiate details. They should just say no!
This is the same tactic Bush administration officials used previously in the Klamath Water Deal. Then a “framework agreement” had to be accepted on short notice if a group wanted to escape the fate of Water Watch and Oregon Wild -- banishment from the “club” of “deciders” -- a favorite Bush term. Many representatives had not seen key provisions of that “framework” until a day or two before the deadline. Language had mysteriously appeared giving a powerful group of irrigators priority for Klamath water over fish and control of key portions of the Upper Klamath Basin.
Groups which balked at the last minute additions were told these things could be fixed in the final version. But that never happened.
The same thing is happening now with the dam deal. To get into the room (and get a chance to secure a piece of the funding pie) groups must accept the “Agreement in Principle” negotiated by PacifiCorp, the Bush administration, and governors Schwarzenegger and Kulongoski. And most of the tribes, fishing and environmental groups have already indicated in press statements that they will go along. Suddenly PacifiCorp is being praised as enlightened by the same folks who were sending protesters to Portland, Oregon, just weeks ago. Like the irrigation elite before them, PacifiCorp's investors must be laughing all the way to the bank. Not only do they get rid of a “toxic asset” and liability for the crumbling Klamath hydropower infrastructure (which under the deal will be handed over to a “dam removal entity”) -- they also get lots of free money from their electric customers.
As one of those electric customers I am thankful there is one tribe -- the Hoopa -- and a few environmental groups -- the Northcoast Environmental Center, Water Watch and Oregon Wild -- which are not buying either the manipulative tactics or the corporate-interests-first-and-forever results of what is now a dam and water deal artificially joined together.
Let's stand behind the one tribe that won't give in to the pressure -- the Hoopa -- and the environmental groups which have been fighting for the Klamath River for three decades. Let Congressman Mike Thompson and the California Public Utilities Commission know that we want to restore the Klamath River and Klamath salmon, not just remove PacifiCorp's toxic asset at taxpayer and customer expense.
In a fair settlement the feds, states and PacifiCorp would share funding dam and powerhouse removal. In a fair settlement fish will get the water they need and the irrigation elite will not come before salmon and small farmers. We need a fair Klamath settlement not another Bush corporate giveaway.
Felice Pace has lived in the Klamath River Basin since 1975. He has been active on Klamath River issues since 1985. Felice currently blogs on Klamath issues at Klam Blog. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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