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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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The agenda of the regular meeting of the Klamath Board of County
Commissioners for January 18, 2005 included among a long list of items
"In the matter of discussion and consideration of the COB power plant
proposed enterprise zone agreement. Trey Senn, KCEDA." 
by Lyn Brock 1/18/05

Mr. Paul Turner, spokesperson for COB Energy Facility, began by saying
that COB was only making a proposal and that they were
not requesting the Board to vote on that proposal at today's meeting. 
He then presented a computer video presentation which began with a stylized 
depiction of the visibility of the proposed energy facility as seen by
a bird flying from Bonanza up and over the hill to the COB site.  The video suggested 
that the actual plant will not be visible from Bonanza. 
The bird would have to be something like 700 or 1200 or 2000 feet in
the air above Bonanza before the facility would be visible.  We could see the cooling
towers in the depiction but the stacks which have been listed in prior
application materials from COB at up to 200 feet high didn't appear to
be included .  

He stated that water for power generation use would be 200
gallons per minute (plus 90 gallons per minute for irrigation during
about seven months of the year).  He added that power plants  do not operate 100%
of the time and this one is proposed to run 72% of the year ,  so its
average use would be 36 gpm for a 575 MW facility or 72 gpm for an 1160
MW facility. Mr. Turner had some more interesting statistics :  Seventy-two
percent of 200 is 72 and thirty-six percent of
200 is 36. At least that is what he put up on the
screen during  his formal presentation.  These are the kind of inaccuracies
we continue to find in the COB material and if these details are incorrect, we 
believe other data which affects life and health and safety may also be incorrect . 

 Mr. Turner stated that the emission control process reduces the emissions much
as a catalytic converter on a car.  We later questioned whether it
reduces emissions or changes NOx to a different form.  He says it
reduces emissions and the "catalytic converter" containing precious
metals is replaced periodically and hauled to a landfill. later,
outside the meeting room, I asked whether the emissions didn't change
forms and get emitted as a different chemical compound ... such as
ammonium nitrate.  He said that it didn't change forms and he couldn't
answer my question as to how many tons of ammonium nitrate would be
emitted.   He said he didn't know, that we could probably find it in their
materials.  We wanted to discuss it with him and didn't 
have the COB books with us.

 Mr. Turner stated that this project would be a $671 million capital
investment and then proceeded to explain how much they projected would
be spent in the local economy and how many support jobs it would
create.  He talked about how the construction workers would bring their
wives and families here.  

That didn't appear to be the case during construction of the CoGen. 
Our county didn't appear to receive benefit of a lot of spending from
those workers.  They lived in their travel trailers at local trailer
parks, some in motels with weekly rates, and probably ate at
convenience stores and fast food places.  I would like to see the
statistics on how much money that construction crew brought into our
county. Most of them didn't bring their families.  They sent much of
their earnings home to support home and family.  If they lived close
enough to drive home on weekends, many of them did so.  For a short two
or three years, this construction project may bring new people into the
area to fill those jobs and the support jobs such as fast food
workers.  Then we will  have more people out of work and needing
assistance.  The few who might buy homes will be unemployed and unable
to make house payments.  Unable to sell their houses, will they stay
here and unemployed or will they move on to another temporary
construction site leaving their house vacant awaiting sale?

Mr. Turner stated that their assessed property tax at normal
assessed rate would be something like 7 million dollars a year and then
reduced as the property depreciates.  That is true of personal property
and perhaps of the kind of equipment COB will have at their facility. 
MY property taxes are not reduced every year!  I wish!  So as their
facility depreciates, will it look like the mill site in Dairy which
has definitely depreciated since it was designated an enterprise zone? 
It now looks like a junkyard, an industrial
dumpsite, and  is an eyesore in an otherwise
rural farm community.  

COB is now proposing to pay one half the amount of
regularly assessed taxes ... something like
3.some million dollars ... instead of the formerly offered $1 million
or $1.5 million in lieu of taxes.  I believe the amount offered is
still "in lieu of taxes" but Mr. Turner didn't make that clear in his
presentation.  As I understand it, "in lieu of taxes" would mean it
would come directly to our county and the Commissioners would have the
discretion as to how it should be spent.  They would bypass the state
process of allocating a large percentage to local schools.  I would
hope that a similar or larger amount would be spent on our old school
buildings which are sadly in need of repair or replacement.  

COB is also proposing to give $300,000 a year to KCEDA for
economic development.  What do you call that?  That
isn't "in lieu of taxes."  I heard people around me asking if that is a
"bribe" or a "kickback."  

Commissioner Switzer suggested a date for a Public Hearing and
after discussion it was moved and seconded and approved to have a
Public Hearing to consider Enterprise Zone designation for the COB
Energy Facility on February 1st, 2005 at 10 a.m. time certain.  Mr.
Turner was adamant that he HAS to have a decision by February 1st or
therabouts.  Why?  Does he have a buyer?  

Commissioner Elliott brought up the question of whether COB would
provide adequate full-time fire department in Bonanza to handle a fire
of the magnitude that could occur in a gas fired power plant of this

Concerning that and other questions, Mr. Turner stated he would have
answers for the Board tomorrow.  He would put this proposal in writing
and submit it to our County Commissioners tomorrow.

In discussing the size of this plant, asked something about this being
the largest of its size, Mr. Turner stated that there is another of
this size in Washington State.  Later, after the meeting, when
questioned, he stated that the plant is in Grays Harbor and is 1130 MW
so it is close to the same size but, indeed, is not as big or bigger.

Commissioner Brown stated, "You have brought us this proposal ..." then
asked, "Is this an all or nothing proposal?"

Turner discussed that other amounts had been offered in the past that
weren't realistic or fair.  So he just proposed that they compromise on
fifty percent.  This is an attempt at "mending the fences."  He said
they figured out how to "split the baby."  I guess he has heard the
story of the wisdom of King Solomon but didn't understand or learn the
lesson.  In the Bible, the real mother of the baby chose to give up her
baby to the imposter mother rather than to have her child harmed.  I
would say to Mr. Turner that his plant may ruin lives or cause serious
life threatening health conditions to children and other folks in our
area.  You should give up your fight for a tax break.  If this huge
generating plant is destined to be built, this for-profit corporation
should pay its fair share of taxes.  Maybe half of the taxes should be
set aside to buy health insurance for nearby farm workers and residents
to make available health care to those whose health is affected.  At
DEQ meeting, the man answering our questions, when asked, explained
that the way criteria are set for maximum allowable levels of emissions
is based on what is safe for a normal, healthy adult.  So even if the
COB Energy Facility stays within the state guidelines, their emissions
could be harmful to infants, children, the elderly, and anyone with
compromised health conditions.

The commissioners would not allow questions or public comment.  All our
discussions with Mr. Turner were held after this agenda item while
visiting in the hall.

I really enjoyed Trey Senn's comments ... he's the front man for KCEDA
who has worked so hard to attract this unattractive industry to our
rural agricultural area.  He referred to the $300,000 a year for KCEDA
for which he'd like to take credit but said that if he did it would be
"a way big not truth."  Trey, you have such a way with words!

The public hearing on the recommended order that was held in early
November had a lot of statements that were not true made by COB's
attorney and others including the   State's Hearings Officer.  COB's
attorney stated that Klamath County is the least populated county in
the state of Oregon when out of thirty-some counties it is actually
thirteenth from the smallest or thirteenth from the largest depending
on whether you are talking about actual population or about population
density.  He stated that Langell Valley is one of the least populated
areas.  I guess he hasn't done his homework and he hasn't driven
through some of the real, real sparsely populated areas of Eastern
Oregon where you can drive for ten miles in the middle of the day on a
main highway and never meet another vehicle.  COB's attorney stated
that there are no residences within 1.7 miles of the COB site. 
Actually, there appear to be at least 12 homes shown within that
distance in the COB materials.  If DEQ is basing their studies on these facts
(way big not truths, I guess Trey Senn would classify them, if he took
an honest look at the data), they might be misinterpreting the effect
emissions or noise levels could have on the human population.  And
remember that there is a school within 2.78 miles that has an
enrollment of about 500 to 600 children.  

Not to worry!  The county is going to get big bucks!  

Tomorrow...  Turner promised to deliver this offer in writing to county
commissioners tomorrow.  Hopefully this will be made available to the
public this week.


by Lyn Brock who is a teacher, accountant, and farmer living near
Bonanza and, along with many other residents of Klamath County, through
their nonprofit organization "Save Our Rural Oregon," is opposing the
construction of the COB Energy Facility in rural Langell Valley.



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