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Response to the KRRC commentary's 'corrections'

Guest Opinion by Rex Cozzalio for the Herald and News. Cozzalio is a third generation resident on the Klamath River who's property is downstream from Iron Gate Dam.

FOLLOWED BY: Corrections on Dam removal plans, by Mark Bransom, CEO KRRC / Klamath River Renewal Corp. 2/3/19

 The ‘Klamath River Renewal Corporation’ (KRRC) is a ‘non-profit’ having no assets of its own, created by the special interest ‘amended’ Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) signatories, effectively shielding themselves from liability.  Mr. Bransom, paid CEO of the KRRC, was hired for one purpose… to carry out KHSA destruction of the dams and reservoirs.  At a recent meeting when questioned what they would do if the KRRC had insufficient money, an annoyed Mr. Bransom stated ‘no matter what else happens, KRRC will blow the dams’. 

Mr. Bransom was kind enough to ‘correct’ statements in my H&N edited opinion, which original submission actually went into greater detail.  His only ‘correction’ which is ‘correct’ relates to my word choice of ‘at most 5% (of available funds) of your money is allowed for “as-needed” local contractors’.  ‘At most’ was my shortened interpretation of Mr. Bransom previously stating 5% as the ‘goal’, which to my understanding is a real-world high end estimate. As to his remaining statements, the following are ‘corrections’ to his ‘corrections’.

Financial statistics were never attributed to Kiewit. The ‘budget’ numbers came directly from Mr. Bransom and Mr. Meurer during prior KRRC ‘informational’ meetings and releases.  Responses regarding Kiewit were made specifically to Kiewit H&N directly quoted article claims.

Mr. Bransom’s ‘correction’ of ‘hundreds of jobs’ for the Basin uses their now old modus of bait and switch.  My actual quote was ‘The KRRC and Kiewit know their proclaimed jobs creation is temporary and will collapse in several years, following the destruction of proven, irreplaceable dam environmental enhancements and income resources’, which is undeniable by KRRC's own stated terms.  Any claims of ‘eventual’ benefit come with no historically supported assurance, particularly true coming from a shell corporation dissolving after acknowledged irreversible regional devastation.  Holding themselves harmless, profiting KHSA signers will later mass market ‘restoration benefits’ regardless of outcome or consequence to others, and Mr. Bransom will simply move on.

I thank Mr. Bransom for ‘clarifying’ how insurance works in ‘protecting your neighbor’, so I guess every 12 year old knowing insurance is designed to ‘protect’ the purchaser must be wrong.  One ‘hopes’ that insurance also protects the harmed, but I am aware of no liability insurance that leaves the decision of award up to the client.  By intent, only the KRRC can be held liable for non-contractual agenda caused damages.  With a cap on ratepayer/taxpayer funds; no other corporate asset security; high end cost projections substantially exceeding available funds; no additional funding sources; and limited budget to purchase coverage, what providing insurance carrier wouldn’t endlessly fight any award for damages potentially opening a door to their own insolvency?  That ‘fact’ places an economic legal barrier between the KRRC and everyone with limited resources harmed outside of those few ‘covered’ under the KHSA.  Even FERC recognizes those concerns, calling just last week for the KRRC to produce proof of as yet non-existent insurance coverage.  Ironically, FERC’s stated priority for approving destruction is that KHSA signatories must first be protected from liability.  Doesn’t bode well for others, does it?

Mr. Bransom also tries to confuse ‘with your money, taken by benefiting signers, who contribute none of their own’.  By restating where the funds originate, he simply confirms my statement.  By ‘Agreement’, none of the costs are carried by benefitting KHSA signatories, only by the ratepayers and taxpayers having no direct representation ‘at the table’.   Regardless of claimed intent, PacifiCorp’s primary obligation is to its shareholders, not the ratepayers.  Later ‘review’ by governor appointed agenda compliant Public Utility Commissions does not change that reality.

Regarding ‘Klamath Basin benefits’, whether of no concern or outside his purview, Mr. Bransom failed to notice the remaining paragraphs of my letter describing just a tiny portion of the current science, dams removals, and history now predicting the additional loss and oppression that unaccountable downstream Project destruction will bring to the Upper Basin.  

Mr. Bransom stating ‘our goal is to provide a deeper understanding of the many complex issues involved in the dam removal process’ would be laughable were not so many lives at risk.  At every meeting to date, neither Mr. Bransom nor Mr. Meurer have been able to effectively address any ‘complex issue’ questions beyond their assigned KHSA destruction ‘intent’ and their ‘looking into it’ marketing rhetoric, deferring unanswered inequities and uncertainties to ‘amended’ KHSA authors holding themselves unreachable and unaccountable.  His ending statement implies it all… ‘so the public can make their own informed opinions about the project’.  Like the KHSA benefitting signers, Mr. Bransom apparently feels the regional supermajority most vested, impacted, and suffering the greatest short and long term consequences, may have an opinion..., just not a choice.

Send your concerns to FERC. 
Rex Cozzalio

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Corrections on Dam removal plans

by Mark Bransom, CEO KRRC / Klamath River Renewal Corp. 2/3/19

Rex Cozzalio’s recent letter of Jan. 18, 2019, (Kiewit positions for Klamath dam pillage, by Rex Cozzalio, member of SCWUA / Siskiyou County Water Users Association, 1/18/19) reports on a presentation from Kiewit Infrastructure West, a potential lead contractor for the Klamath dam removal, to local subcontractors it could partner with in the future.

We reached out to Kiewit who confirmed that their presentation did not mention costs, technical aspects, or environmental benefits of the project, as Mr. Cozzalio stated.

Klamath River Renewal Corp. (KRRC) on the other hand does talk about these aspects of the project as it’s our duty to keep the public and regulatory agencies informed with the facts. Because of this commitment, we would like to clarify several of Mr. Cozzalio’s statements regarding project hiring plans and funding.

KRRC’s local hiring goals, as demonstrated by Kiewit’s recent outreach, are that at least five-percent of the design-build contract price will be spent on local sub-contractors or employment of local workforce and at least five-percent for Tribes. This is a floor, not a ceiling and we hope to exceed these minimum goals.

The project is slated to bring hundreds of construction jobs to the region. Indirectly, it is estimated to stimulate more than a thousand jobs in support industries such as food service and hospitality.

Let’s also clarify how liability and insurance serve to protect local residents in a big construction project. KRRC’s plans to acquire insurance, bonding and indemnification to provide coverage that protects not only KRRC, but anyone potentially injured or harmed by the project.

Just like how liability insurance for homeowners protects your neighbor from incurring hefty hospital bills if they slip on the ice on your property, this coverage helps make sure all parties are protected.

Mr. Cozzalio goes on to state that dam removal will be paid for “with your money, taken by benefiting signers, who contribute none of their own.” In fact, about half the funds are being collected from PacifiCorp customers in Oregon and California and half the funds will come from California Proposition 1 Bond money.

While Klamath Basin residents stand to benefit the most directly from the project, a wide base of Oregonians and Californians are helping pay for it.

Finally, KRRC would like to correct the claim that we don’t have enough funds to complete the project. Our current estimates put the project costs at approximately $398 million, with large contingencies built in, and is well within KRRC’s budget of $450 million.

Our goal is to provide a deeper understanding of the many complex issues involved in the dam removal process so the public can make their own informed opinions about the project.

Mark Bransom, CEO, KRRC



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