Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Excerpt from Marcia Armstrong's opinion column on Yreka FERC meeting regarding dam removal Agreement In Principle
FERC DAM MEETING: Confusion reigned at last week’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) meeting on the Klamath River dams as the Commission tried to figure out how it fit with the Agreement In Principle (AIP) signed by PacifiCorp, The Dept. of Interior and the States of California and Oregon. The AIP establishes a set of conditions under which the U.S. Secretary of Interior would do the necessary studies and cost/benefit analysis to decide whether four dams are to be removed on the Klamath River. 
Dr. John Mudre gave a presentation on six actions that the Commission is authorized to take under the Federal Power Act. (1) It can issue a license to operate the hydropower facilities. (FERC has already done the necessary work to issue the license, has established the conditions for relicensing and now awaits a clean Water Act certification from the two States to finalize. It is presumed that getting this will be difficult.) (2) It can deny the license and refer to license surrender proceedings. (3) After studies are done, surrender proceedings may result in dam removal. (4) It can transfer a license. (5) it can issue a non-power license for just a dam. (6) It can proceed with a federal take over of the facility.
Mudre also explained that FERC established a policy in 2006 regarding “Settlement Agreements” by interested parties. These are contractual agreements worked out by affected parties rather than going to court. FERC favors such agreements, but does not automatically accept them and must make a determination that they are in the public interest. They also must be focused on provisions within the jurisdiction and authority of the FERC and enforceable by the Commission. FERC should be involved in the development of such agreements and they must be brought before the Commission for approval.
It was determined that the only provisions being worked on that would qualify as a “Settlement Agreement,” under FERC were interim measures to be taken to protect endangered coho and sucker fish while the AIP was in progress. The vast bulk of the KBRA (Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement) is entirely outside the jurisdiction of FERC and Siskiyou County remains opposed to this agreement. I raised the issue, then, whether the secretive meetings of selected interests required to sign confidentiality and good faith agreements favoring dam removal were allowable under FACA – Federal Advisory Committee Act, since these weren’t settlement agreements under FERC. The DOI Representative indicated he would get back to me on that.
It became very clear that the whole relicensing/dam decommissioning issue is being removed from the normal FERC process and, through anticipated Congressional Legislation, will become an administrative decision under the Secretary of the Interior. After significant study, should he decide that the benefits of dam relicensing outweigh the costs, then the FERC process will go back to the point where it is presently, with a legislative waiver of Clean Water Act certification. If he decides that the costs outweigh the benefits, then ownership of the dams will be transferred to a third party and they will be removed by 2020-2025.
Because the process has moved out from under FERC, the protections in that act for public input are no longer in place. The current AIP is essentially a negotiation between PacifiCorp and the Federal and State governments to establish a framework on how to proceed along this new (to be legislated) Administrative path. Our input is to ensure that various impacts to Siskiyou County are properly mitigated, health and safety concerns are fully addressed, and that the science is sound. In response to my concerns expressed at the meeting that a public process be preserved, I received assurances from the Dept. of Interior representative that the decision making process would be subject to NEPA – the National Environmental Policy Act.    

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2009, All Rights Reserved