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House approves amendment blocking funding  for Klamath dam removal study
 
 
February 22, 2011
 
By Ron Brown & KDRV Staff
 
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -  Federal efforts to study the impacts of the possible removal of four  hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River have taken a hit in  Congress.
 
An amendment to the government's Funding bill seeking to  cut $1.9 million from the Department of the Interior for further dam removal  studies passed narrowly in the House by a 215-210 margin this week. The  legislation was introduced by U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-  Calif.).
 
"Let me emphasize Congress has never authorized this  study. Congress never authorized the Klamath settlement. The Bureau of  Reclamation is moving forward with it anyway," McClintock said.
 
"It  will exacerbate the already serious problems we face in the Klamath Basin  watershed. I ask my colleagues to please join me in voting against this bad  amendment," California Rep. Mike Thompson (D- Dist. 1) said.
 
Rep.  Greg Walden (R- Ore.) and Rep. Wally Herger (R- Calif.) voted in favor of the  amendment. All the Democratic members of the Oregon delegation voted against it.  McClintock initially introduced a broader amendment that did not specify the  dam-removal study. It also passed, although by a larger majority.
 
The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and Klamath  Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, KHSA, were signed by more than 30 groups in February of 2010, including then Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and California  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. If approved, they would lead to the largest dam removal in U.S. History. In total, both agreements amount to $1.5 billion, including $200-million funded by Oregon and $250-million by  California.
 
With the agreements signed, the fate of dam removal  lies in the hands of Congress and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar,  who has until 2012 to determine if dam removal is economically and  environmentally safe. If the amendment is approved however, it could delay  removal of the dams, which under the current agreement is scheduled to start in  2020.
 
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              Page Updated: Wednesday April 20, 2011 04:53 PM  Pacific


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