WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two members of Congress are speaking out against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s recent decision about the removal of several Klamath River dams.
This past Thursday, FERC approved the removal of four dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon. In the ruling, commissioners found the project is in the public’s interest.
The decision was a culmination of years of work on the project’s licensee Pacific Corp, Pacific Power’s parent company in the parts of Oregon and California, and several state and local agencies along with several tribes. One of those tribes is the Karuk Tribe, located in the center of the Klamath Basin.
The Karuk believes dam removal is the best thing that can be done to improve water quality, and salmon health in the Klamath River. But not everyone feels the same way.
The day after FERC’s decision was made, Representatives Cliff Bentz (R-OR 2nd District) and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA 1st District) sent out the following statement:
“We are outraged by FERC’s decision to allow surrender of the PacifiCorp Klamath hydroelectric license to a shell corporation, thus allowing PacifiCorp to avoid responsibility for the consequences of removing its Klamath River dams. Such consequences include reducing power generation, eliminating recreational assets, decimating the local community’s economy, destroying firefighting resources, and damaging the Klamath River’s ecosystems. The politicization of this process is apparent in Oregon and California’s stampede to issue the Clean Water Act Section 401 certifications required to remove the dams. The release of massive amounts of accumulated silt from behind the dams will be devastating to water quality, will cover spawning beds, and will choke fish. Obviously, when politically expedient, the governors of California and Oregon will turn a blind eye to dramatic and substantial environmental damages.
“Many of the residents of the Klamath Basin have been outspoken in their opposition to dam removal. Siskiyou county has overwhelmingly voted against decommissioning, and Congress has refused to fund dam removal. Instead of respecting the voice of the people, unelected bureaucrats are providing a blank check, payable by tax and rate payers of Oregon and California, to cover the unknown costs associated with dam removal. No plan exists to ensure that proper river flows will be available following dam removal. FERC’s decision, and Oregon and California’s complicity in steamrolling the environmental protections under the Clean Water Act, will not adequately protect the health and prosperity of the community or the environment.
“We are exploring legislative options to properly address this politicized and environmentally destructive decision. Additionally, in the upcoming 118th Congress, we Republicans will use our majority to aggressively conduct oversight of this flawed decision making process.”
Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley called the largest dam removal project in American history a historic milestone in a joint statement Thursday. It reads in part, “Clearing this key procedural hurdle was critical to support the ongoing efforts by Klamath stakeholders to restore vibrant salmon runs that sustain commercial and recreational fisheries and have been the core of the cultural, spiritual, and economic well-being of the Klamath Basin tribes.”
It’s expected to cost half a billion dollars to remove the dams. It’s being funded by taxpayers in California and Pacific Corp customers in both states. The process is scheduled to begin in the middle of next year.
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