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The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement: many wolves and a sheep

Op-Ed by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 5, 6/16/09

Let's call the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement what it is - many wolves and a sheep sitting down to decide what's for dinner. It's a trade where special interests bargained away the health, safety and property of those not permitted to participate in the back room secretive process. These interests cannot just "celebrate consensus" in a vacuum - wishing away the large number of people who are opposed to and potentially injured by this deal with the devil.

True to historic form, the federal and State governments appear intent upon abandoning the commitments they have made to Siskiyou County to adequately address the human and environmental damage caused by dam removal. Those at the table are apparently beating a fast retreat from financial liability and accountability for their dealings. This leaves the people of Siskiyou County holding the bag for restoration of the raw open scars of drained reservoirs and recovery from the impacts of sediment, which are likely toxic. There is no funding set aside to adequately compensate property owners around the reservoirs for the loss of their property values or Siskiyou County for the loss of tax revenues and impacts to the local economy. To add to the burden, there is no funding dedicated to develop alternative sources of power to replace the loss of clean hydropower.

The State of Oregon seeks to shield their ratepayers with a legislated limit on their responsibility for the costs of dam removal. Pacific Power wants to walk away from the dams without further liability. The federal government wants to defer responsibility to some "designated removal entity" with much shallower pockets. All refuse to admit to the fact that dam removal will cost significantly more than what proponents have claimed.

Although the Klamath Agreement gives lip service to a cost/benefit analysis to inform a final decision, it's obvious that major players consider dam removal to be a done deal. At this point, definitive scientific studies supporting the proposal are absent. What we have is an accumulated pile of biased reports commissioned by dam removal advocates intent upon stacking the deck in favor of removal. We also have a suppression of scientific analysis that points toward some serious impacts to human health and the environment - impacts that would add hundreds of millions of dollars to the costs of dam removal. This is the questionable foundation upon which the agreement has been forged.

Marcia H. Armstrong, Supervisor District 5 Siskiyou County

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