would pay up to $200 million of the estimated $450 million
cost of the removal, passing on its portion to ratepayers.
The state of California would pay for the rest.
The framework of the deal
"ensures that our customers will be protected at every step
along the way," Greg Abel, PacifiCorp's chairman and chief
executive, said in a prepared statement.
The deal between
PacifiCorp, the Interior Department and California and
Oregon was reached after three years of negotiations with
environmental, tribal and farmer groups. The parties hope to
finalize the agreement by June. The dams' removal is subject
to approval by federal officials, after reviews that are
expected to take four years.
"This marks the first step
in a future process, but it's a giant step," Interior
Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said at a new conference Thursday.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski
added, "While many months of work [lie] ahead, this historic
agreement provides a path forward to achieve the largest
river and salmon restoration effort ever undertaken."
Most groups didn't get
everything they wanted. The American Rivers environmental
group, for example, was pushing for the dams to be removed
by as soon as 2015. And farmers who depend on irrigation
from the river stand to get less water in dry years than
they do now.
But most of the parties
sounded pleased that a deal could be reached to end the
The conflict turned so ugly
in 2001 that federal marshals had to be called in after
angry farmers seeking water turned on spigots that the U.S.
government had closed during a drought year.
In 2002, environmentalists
became enraged after tens of thousands of salmon died in the
river when the government diverted more water to the
"The bottom line is we
tried to find common ground and compromise, and that is the
only way something like this could have happened," said
Martin Goebel, president of Sustainable Northwest, a
Portland-based environmental group.
Jim Carlton at