Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
September 11, 2007
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Re: Klamath River: Siskiyou County Dam Removal/Dam Relicensing
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
As you are aware, a number of dams owned by PacifiCorp in Siskiyou County are in the relicensing process and the subject of dam removal discussions. The County of Siskiyou and its constituents stand to be significantly impacted if any of the dams slated for relicensing are to be removed. The County of Siskiyou is supportive of fish and river health but has been and continues to be in opposition to dam removal. It believes that there are reasonable alternatives to dam removal which would improve fish and river health but would not significantly impact the County of Siskiyou and its constituents.
Your administration has been an active participant in those discussions, and a principle proponent of dam removal. We wish to share with you why our community – the community that would be most affected by dam removal -- has serious reservations about this policy approach, and what issues we believe must be addressed if, notwithstanding those concerns, dam removal is pursued.
We believe dam removal poses a substantial risk to the environment -- both in terms of water quality and global warming. While the underlying assumption is that dam removal will enhance our fishery resource, there are serious, and as yet unanswered questions as to what impact unleashing decades of unknown sediment currently lodged at the base of these dams will have on water quality. Indeed, PacifiCorp has made it abundantly clear that they do not desire to assume any legal liability associated with this potential environmental disaster, which is why some vehicle is being sought to assume such responsibility if dam removal were to occur. Our citizens, more than anyone else, will bear the brunt of any environmental error. Moreover, removing carbon neutral, inexpensive hydro power without an equally environmentally acceptable and cheap replacement source of power is contrary to your leadership on global warming and energy initiatives.
Finally, there needs to be some appreciation of the cumulative impacts of environmental regulations on communities such as Siskiyou County. The natural resource industries that historically employed our citizens and gave us the tax base to provide services to our people is now a shadow of its former self. Totally apart from the environmental considerations, dam removal will, among other things, further harm our tax base, reduce property values, dramatically curtail world class white water rafting recreational opportunities, and, unless fully mitigated, negatively impact the quality of life in our community.
Given these concerns, we believe the more prudent course of action would be to focus on alternative and less threatening ways of enhancing our fishery resource, a goal Siskiyou County fully embraces. Indeed, as your Department of Fish & Game recently testified before us, the two pilot projects in Siskiyou County aimed at Coho recovery could well become a model for the rest of the state. Installation of fish ladders, prudent water use, and other approaches would produce significant improvements in fishery conditions without the environmental risks and economic losses associated with dam removal.
If, notwithstanding these concerns, and the availability of other options, your Administration continues to pursue dam removal, Siskiyou County, on behalf of itself and its constituents, respectfully requests that you ensure that the following issues, among others, are satisfactorily addressed:
· Economic Losses: As set forth above, dam removal would have a significant negative economic impact on Siskiyou County, property owners, and businesses. The County and property/business owners should be made whole with respect to these impacts.
· Economic Opportunities: Given the cumulative adverse impact of this and other environmental measures to our local economy, Siskiyou County residents should be given a preference in the economic activity and job creation opportunities that would arise from dam removal and that consideration should be given to public works projects and economic development, including job creation incentives for the County.
· Replacement Power: In light of the state’s desire to have more control over energy resources and to promote renewable energy, the replacement power for the lost hydrogeneration should be located in Siskiyou County. Siskiyou County is the home to considerable bio-mass opportunities which could have the dual benefit of creating clean replacement power while helping manage the timber resource and stimulate forest health in the County. Further, geothermal resources exist in the County and state assistance in helping develop such a resource could provide another avenue for the generation of replacement power.
· Rehabilitation/Restoration: The lands currently submerged by reservoirs must be fully restored.
· Infrastructure: The deconstruction of dams will place an incredible stress, and cause serious damage to our roads. Road and attendant infrastructure improvements will be required.
· Indemnification: Given the serious concerns regarding the potential impacts on the environment of dam removal, Siskiyou County would require full indemnification from any and all damages resulting from dam removal with no waiver of liability or limits on liability or preclusions from full accountability and responsibility for any damages resulting from dam removal.
· Full Due Diligence and Thorough Environmental Review: Prior to committing to any dam removal, there should be definitive due diligence completed, together with full and thorough NEPA/CEQA review, including full economic and mitigation analysis done, without efforts to legislatively override or any other attempts made to override full mitigation of identified impacts.
The County of Siskiyou desires to continue to be a constructive player in the pursuit of action that is supportive of fish and river health. We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you, representatives of your office, or any other appropriate officials so that we can attempt to insure that our communities’ concerns are fully understood and hopefully fully addressed.
Very truly yours,
SISKIYOU COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Jim Cook, Supervisor La Vada Erickson, Supervisor
District 1 District 2
Michael Kobseff, Supervisor Bill Overman, Supervisor
Marcia H. Armstrong, Supervisor
cc: Susan Kennedy, Chief of Staff
Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa
Senator Sam Aanestad
Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman
John McCammen, Acting Director, Dept. of Fish and Game
G:\Share\FERC Legislators Letters\FJD Revised Version of Draft Letter to Governor 09_07_07 5 pm Letterhead Final.doc
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