Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Catherine Van Horn
Energy Facility Siting Council
Oregon Department of Energy
625 Marion St. NE
Salem, OR 97301-3737
January 22, 2004
To: Energy Facility Siting Council
My name is Lyn Brock. My husband and I live on our farm property at
Bonanza, Oregon. I submit these comments and issues for consideration by
the Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) and its staff as a part of
the public hearing on the Draft Proposed Order ("DPO") for the COB
Energy Facility issued December 30, 2003 by the Oregon Department of
Energy (DOE), acting as staff for EFSC. I submit these comments as an
individual and as a member of Save Our Rural Oregon.1 Please place all
of these comments in the record of these proceedings and notify me of
any future proceedings in this matter especially the contested case
Oregon has maintained a strong policy to protect farmland. That policy
was set by the state's legislature in 1973. It calls for "preservation
of a maximum amount of the limited supply of agricultural land (ORS
ORS 215.243 Agricultural land use policy. The Legislative Assembly finds
and declares that:
(1) Open land used for agricultural use is an efficient means of
conserving natural resources that constitute an important physical,
social, aesthetic and economic asset to all of the people of this state,
whether living in rural, urban or metropolitan areas of the state.
(2) The preservation of a maximum amount of the limited supply of
agricultural land is necessary to the conservation of the states
economic resources and the preservation of such land in large blocks is
necessary in maintaining the agricultural economy of the state and for
the assurance of adequate, healthful and nutritious food for the people
of this state and nation.
(3) Expansion of urban development into rural areas is a matter of
public concern because of the unnecessary increases in costs of
community services, conflicts between farm and urban activities and the
loss of open space and natural beauty around urban centers occurring as
the result of such expansion.
(4)Exclusive farm use zoning as provided by law, substantially limits
alternatives to the use of rural land and, with the importance of rural
lands to the public, justifies incentives and privileges offered to
encourage owners of rural lands to hold such lands in exclusive farm use
zones. [1973 c.503 §1]
Oregon is and should be protective of its resources. The citizens of
Oregon have worked hard for many years to improve the quality of the air
and protect the environment. These issues are also written into the law:
ORS 469.010 Policy. The Legislative Assembly finds and declares that:
"(1) Continued growth in demand for nonrenewable energy forms poses a
serious and immediate, as well as future, problem. It is essential that
future generations not be left a legacy of vanished or depleted
resources, resulting in massive environmental, social and financial impact.
"(2) It is the goal of Oregon to promote the efficient use of energy
resources and to develop permanently sustainable energy resources. The
need exists for comprehensive state leadership in energy production,
distribution and utilization. It is, therefore, the policy of Oregon:
"(a) That development and use of a diverse array of permanently
sustainable energy resources be encouraged utilizing to the highest
degree possible the private sector of our free enterprise system.
"(b) That through state government example and other effective
communications, energy conservation and elimination of wasteful and
uneconomical uses of energy and materials be promoted. This conservation
must include, but not be limited to, resource recovery and materials
"(c) That the basic human needs of every citizen, present and future,
shall be given priority in the allocation of energy resources,
commensurate with perpetuation of a free and productive economy with
special attention to the preservation and enhancement of environmental
I believe these laws discourage the siting of a fossil fueled generation
facility which will use Oregon resources unwisely and lessen the quality
of air and environment. I believe the laws protecting land which is
zoned for exclusive farm use (EFU) do not allow the siting of this
facility on farmland.
ORS 469.504(2), which deals with the an exceptions process in the
specific context of the energy facility siting process as follows:
(2) The council may find goal compliance for a facility that does not
otherwise comply with one or more statewide planning goals by taking an
exception to the applicable goal. Notwithstanding the requirements of
ORS 197.732, the statewide planning goal pertaining to the exception
process or any rules of the Land Conservation and Development Commission
pertaining to an exception process goal, the council may take an
exception to a goal if the council finds:
(a) The land subject to the exception is physically developed to the
extent that the land is no longer available for uses allowed by the
(b) The land subject to the exception is irrevocably committed as
described by the rules of the Land Conservation and Development
Commission to uses not allowed by the applicable goal because existing
adjacent uses and other relevant factors make uses allowed by the
applicable goal impracticable; or
(c) The following standards are met:
(A) Reasons justify why the state policy embodied in the applicable
goal should not apply;
(B) The significant environmental, economic, social and energy
consequences anticipated as a result of the proposed facility have been
identified and adverse impacts will be mitigated in accordance with
rules of the council applicable to the siting of the proposed facility; and
(C) The proposed facility is compatible with other adjacent uses or
will be made compatible through measures designed to reduce adverse
Page 220 of the DPO refers to ORS 469.504(2)(c)(A). The reason given is
that "the use is dependent upon Unique Resources Located on Resource
Land" and that "The proposed Energy Facility site is centrally located
relative to three resources that are critical to the operation of the
Energy Facility"... water, natural gas pipeline, and major regional
electric transmission line and substation. When the COB application was
determined to be complete, initially, it was for a water cooled
facility. At that time they required over 7000 gallons per minute of
water for their process. Now that they have amended that application to
be an air cooled facility, the energy facility requires less than three
percent of that amount. They no longer need to be located with access to
the Babson well which produces such a great quantity of water. Their
needs no longer require any unique resource or unique combination of
resources. Webster defines unique as "adj. [ < L unus, one] 1 one and
only; sole 2 without like or equal 3 very unusual." The needs for their
air cooled facility could be met in many different locations.
Although they are not required to consider alternative sites, in order
to decide if their facility requires unique resources, it is necessary
to consider other locations to determine if the Langell Valley location
is, indeed, unique.
Some sites that would have access to power lines and gas pipeline and
At Tionesta, about 20 miles south of Tulelake, California, there is a
gas compressor station and it is close to the intertie lines.
Los Banos, California, has a big substation and gas line and a reservoir.
Alturas has an old sawmill industrial site and the 345 kv power line
which goes to Reno and is on the gas line which runs from near Malin,
Oregon to Reno, Nevada.
As for Oregon locations, possibly the old Loveness mill east of Malin
would have even easier access to these resources than the Langell Valley
And at Klamath Falls, the site next to the CoGen is zoned industrial and
has access to gas pipeline, transmission line, and wells.
The fact that we can easily name other locations with resources required
for the COB project proves that the Langell Valley location is not
unique and, therefore, they should not qualify for an exception to Goal
3. They do not meet the criteria to site their facility on EFU land.
Considering again this statement in ORS 469(2)(c)(B):
"The significant environmental, economic, social and energy consequences
anticipated as a result of the proposed facility have been identified
and adverse impacts will be mitigated in accordance with rules of the
council applicable to the siting of the proposed facility;"
This proposed facility, if built, will have an economic impact on the
agricultural community surrounding the proposed site.
These roads coming to Bonanza are "farm to market" roads, not designed
for the volume of heavy trucks that will be using them if COB is sited
in Langell Valley. This concern has been stated by several people and we
haven't seen it addressed. What damage can we expect from the number of
trucks carrying heavy loads over these roads not designed for this
purpose? If there are hundreds of construction workers commuting to work
in Langell Valley, how many extra vehicles will be on our roads? Will
there be a significant hazard from this increased traffic so that
farmers who now drive slow moving tractors and other farm equipment on
the road or move their cattle by having a cattle drive along the roads
will have to transport farm equipment or cattle by truck and trailer.
This would be an inconvenience and could be a significant added expense.
We suggest that workers living in Klamath should be required to ride on
a company bus to the construction location to limit the hazard of
traffic to our communities and impact to our highways.
Another point for your consideration: Proposed FERC laws regarding
"locational marginal pricing" would mean that if COB LLC is built here
and power is put on grid, price of power in THIS area would be raised.2
This could be a huge issue. Relate this to 469.504(2)(c)(B) and the
"economic" issue. Farmers in this area already face the 2006 hurdle of
our 50 year contract for cheap power for irrigation coming to an end. If
power costs increase to residential rates, irrigation costs may become
prohibitive especially in our area where Horsefly Irrigation District
users have to double pump ... once out of the river and again out of the
ditch, instead of gravity flow out of lake or river as in most
districts. The increase caused by COB and proposed FERC laws regarding
"locational marginal pricing," if passed, would add to this severe
economic burden on farmers.
Oregon water law states that a priority water right holder cannot claim
injury until the ground water source is totally developed. If COB is
pumping from 1500 feet down and my irrigation pump is drawing from 200
feet down, and my well goes dry, I must drill to 1500 feet before I can
claim injury. Farmers cannot afford to pump water from that depth. Even
if that were economically feasible, the cost of mitigation for water
rights to pay attorney fees and expert witnesses would be a severe
These impacts to irrigation could be mitigated by COB giving seven
percent of power generated to Klamath County to provide free power to
farmers for irrigation and reduced cost power to all other services
(residential and commercial).
Concerns about wastewater and stormwater
Is the wastewater treated and then applied to land for irrigation? Line
18 of page 300 says "No process wastewater shall be discharged to
surface waters of the State of Oregon." So what keeps this from becoming
part of the groundwater that discharges into the ditches or Lost River,
especially after a heavy rain?
Page 300, line 33 says forage animals are not allowed to graze on area
irrigated by wastewater ... does that include domestic and wild animals?
How will deer and antelope be kept off this area ... chain link fence?
Why is there a question about forage animals being on this land? What is
the concern? If not grazed, will it be mowed for hay or what? What will
be done with that hay? Or will the grass be field burned? If hay, will
the hay be safe for domestic animals? for beef production? for dairy
cows? Or will hay be disposed of as in a landfill?
As for the wastewater ponds ... if DEQ says ponds are needed, COB will
have to apply for a new permit for the 40.2 acre pond or ponds. Does
that mean that if the plant is up and running, the whole COB operation
will have to shut down while they apply for new permit and DEQ makes
that decision (and will there be public meeting and comment period?) And
will it require that COB won't be able to run its operation until permit
is issued and ponds are built and ready for use?
Page 63, lines 28-29 The information here does not say anything about
evaporation ponds or infiltration basin or the 31 acres of irrigated
land all of which might be affected with chemicals from process water or
chemicals washed off rooftops and parking lots by storm water. What
would the restoration process be for those areas?
Page 132 line 33 I am wondering how much acreage the stormwater pond
will cover because I couldn't see that it says. An acre foot could be
one acre one foot deep or a fourth of an acre four feet deep . Maybe
they haven't decided how large it will need to be. That will affect the
total number of acres taken out of EFU.
Mr. Trotta has said to us that the company siting the plant doesn't plan
to run it. They are building it to sell, which has raised a question in
my mind as to the permitting of a plant being built for the purpose of
selling power to the public as opposed to building a plant to sell the
facility for profit. I think these are actually two different
situations. I maintain that building this plant with the intention of
selling the plant for profit does not fit the criteria of building this
plant as a commercial facility "for the purpose of generating electrical
power for public use by sale."
Looking at the recent rolling blackouts in Canada and the eastern United
States, we have an example of some problems with our power grids.
Facilities which produce power should be located near their market.
Great amounts of power are lost when it is necessary for transmission
over long distances. Huge power grids can lead to huge problems. Power
should be produced and used within smaller geographic units or areas.
The booklet, "State of Oregon Energy Plan 2003-2005" from the Oregon
Office of Energy, says on page 31, "We set the following goals to
achieve our mission: ... Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning
fossil fuels ... This two-year action plan reflects these and other
responsibilities...." (page 37) ... item 27. identifies some policy
issues raised by some power
plant applications. "Among the issues are ... many members of the public
have concerns about siting power plants in areas where they may affect
important visual resources or farmland." It sounds like the siting of
this energy facility would go against your own policies!
This project proposes to use wonderful, clean well water from what COB's
experts say is a new aquifer. State and federal scientists are
reasonably sure the aquifers are not separate and therefore are not two
aquifers but one and the same aquifer. Even using a lesser amount of
water as applied for in the amended application, the company would be
using clean well water instead of waste water. Do the math. Even 210
gallons of water a minute is more than 110 million gallons of water a
year. And now they are asking for irrigation water rights. Even for a
few acres, this company should not be granted irrigation water rights
when several local farmers have been waiting years for well certificates!
I want to restate my objection to this piecemeal type of application.
This applicant should be required to redo the entire application
including applications to DEQ, WRD, EFSC, and the EIS to BPA and it
should not be accepted until these various parts are free of discrepancies.
Bonanza and Langell Valley are in a rural agricultural area. This is a
quiet valley with many family farms. Bonanza is a small, safe community.
The population of the town is only about 300 people. The school, though,
has an enrollment of about 500 students. Most of these students come
from surrounding farms and smaller towns. We don't want more traffic. We
don't want the stillness destroyed by the constant noise of screaming
turbines and giant fans. We don't want smoke and steam and chemicals
spewed into our clean, fresh, country air. We don't want land that is
farm land to be used for industrial purposes. Let this Chicago company
find an industrial area to build their facility.
This facility no longer needs to be located at this site. They no longer
need access to this well which produces such a great quantity of water.
The Department of Energy's draft recommends they are allowed their
exception. Based on Oregon law, I would argue that they should not
qualify for a Goal 3 exception.
We need you to protect our resources and to make wise decisions for
residents of Oregon not for the profit of a Chicago corporation. So I
want to say to you, our Siting Council, that I encourage you to decide
not to allow this land which is exclusive farm use to be used to site an
energy plant. Farm land is for growing crops and raising livestock to
feed America ... to keep our country strong and independent.
Melyn M. "Lyn" Brock
P O Box 212, Bonanza, Oregon 97623
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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