removal across the West a growing concern
Herald and News by Stephen Floyd
Local commissioners are drafting a letter in opposition to the
potential removal of dams within the Columbia River Basin
following their own frustrations with Klamath River dam removal.
During a liaison meeting Tuesday, Klamath County Commissioner
Tom Mallams proposed sending a letter to the Bureau of
Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville
Power Administration in general opposition to dam removal.
The letter’s intended recipients have been gathering public
input since Sept. 30 for an environmental impact study affecting
14 dams and related facilities in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Mallams said he predicted the removal of these larger dams when
discussions began years ago to remove four dams along the
Klamath River, which he said at the time was dismissed by his
critics as unlikely.
Mallams sent this CORRECTION to Herald and News
and KBC News: "I did not predict that the actual
removal of the Columbia and Snake River Dams would ever
go forward. I only acknowledged that within the KBRA
closed door meetings, the dam removal conversations did
not focus only on the 4 lower dams on the Klamath River.
The conversations widened periodically to include the
need for the Keno Dam to be removed. And then expand dam
removal even farther to include the Columbia and Snake
River Dams. My prediction was that all these other dams,
including the Keno dam, Columbia and Snake River dams,
would be the next targets if the Klamath Dam removal
effort actually started moving ahead."
“I was called — blatantly called — a liar,” he said, “...I don’t
get any satisfaction in saying I told you so.”
Talks to remove the local dams became part of settlement
negotiations after the 2001 Klamath Basin water crisis and
details of dam removal were eventually included in the Klamath
Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement (KHSA).
Efforts to re-evaluate the Columbia River dams began following a
federal court ruling in May in favor of environmentalists, the
State of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe mandating revisions to
federal fish-protection plans by March of 2018, according to The
Mallams said those opposed to dam removal after 2001 were
excluded from negotiating the KBRA and KHSA agreements and said
he is concerned similar closed-door meetings will determine the
fate of dams up north.
He said critics of dam removal saw the Klamath River as a
“stepping stone” to the removal of larger dams and current talks
are evidence of this.
“This is where it’s been heading for years,” he said. “The
environmentalists are very passionate about this and they’re
very comfortable doing it in slow steps.”
Mallams said he plans to attend a meeting about Columbia River
dam removal Tuesday in The Dalles and asked fellow commissioners
to approve a letter in general opposition to the proposal that
he may present to those taking public comment.
Commissioner Jim Bellet said he would be in favor of signing the
letter and acknowledged there are multiple facets to the
arguments surrounding dam removal.
“It’s something that has been discussed for a long period of
time,” he said.
Bellet said it is “just unbelievable” to think about dams being
removed in the Columbia River given how significantly they
impact power and irrigation throughout the Northwest.
Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said she would like more time
to research the issue as she had not been aware of the new
potential dam removals before their meeting. She said she is
also unsure if Klamath County should take a position on an issue
that may not directly impact the local area.
“I know we sometimes jump into issues in other counties but I
just don’t know how excited I am about jumping into another
county’s issue,” she said.
Minty Morris added she intended to speak with commissioners in
Wasco County, which contains one of the dams in the
Mallams said the local impact would be strong if dams were
removed on the Columbia and Snake rivers. He said most of the
electric power in Klamath County comes from such dams and their
removal would have a “huge, huge impact” on the area.
“How do you replace that much power?” he said. “You can’t do
that with solar and wind and (Oregon) won’t let you do coal.”
Public comment on the matter is being
accepted through Jan. 17, 2017, and can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: RSCO EIS, PO Box 2870,
Portland, OR 97208. Two webinars are also planned for Dec. 13
from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m. through www.crso.info.
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