Herald and News: Klamath Falls, Oregon
Government decides on basis of
dollar signs, not what's best
22, 2004 by LYNN BROCK, guest columnist
Lyn Brock and her husband have
a farm in Bo-nanza where they raise hay,
cattle, and horses. She has been a teacher for
Klamath County schools and is an accountant.
government run amok. "Amok" - that's an
interesting word. It is pronounced "a muck,"
and Webster's definition includes such phrases
as "to lose control" and "to become
With spring just
around the corner, Klamath basin farmers
should be planning what to plant.
With water rights
on more than 30 wells uncertain and the Oregon
Water Resources De-partment three years behind
in making decisions on the certificates, most
of those wells no longer have a permit.
had been told they should have a decision by
December, then by the end of January, then the
first part of February. Here it is March and
still no word. Yet the state's Department of
Energy is recommending a permit for an
out-of-state industry to get its permit.
That permit is
for Cob LLC to build an energy facility in
Langell Valley. It applied two years ago. The
30 agricultural wells have been waiting for 10
years or more for certificates.
They could be
Oregon water law
is based on the priority of water use. The
first to put a water source to beneficial use
establishes the first priority for its use. If
the deep, water-bearing zones and the more
shallow, water-bearing zones are connected,
then they are one aquifer.
If they are one
aquifer, at least 30 other individuals hold
water right certificates or permits with
senior priority on that groundwater source. We
know of no Oregon statute or administrative
rule that authorizes a change in priority by
conditioning the permit or certificate. If
priority is now negotiable, it is available to
the highest bidder, and the body of Oregon
water law is meaningless.
Klamath Falls have other concerns, too. They
already see their airshed contaminated by
smoke and other particulate matter from the
city's cogeneration plant. The giant plume of
steam rising from that industrial facility
adds an undesirable component to the view. The
steam is created by evaporation of processed
sewer water in the cooling tower process.
Theoretically, in my mind, this evaporative
process should produce a distilled water
vapor. Would that it were so.
I wrote to Oregon
Department of Environmental Quality: "I'm
wondering if you could send me some
information. I'm wondering about the plume
from the cogeneration plant in Klamath Falls.
Theoretically, I would think the evaporative
process should produce distilled water vapor.
Of course, I know the plume would also
contain emissions from the gas combustion
"I am wondering
if the evaporative process actually adds some
other particulate matter to the plume from the
processed waste water. Can you explain to me
what the processed wastewater adds to the
particulate matter in the plume?"
I received this
brief response: "Any of the dissolved solids,
such as salts and minerals which would be left
behind after the water evaporates could be
deposited off site and would be considered
So it isn't just
steam going up in that plume and those small
particles of matter are falling out of the sky
and being "deposited" somewhere - on farms,
rooftops, yards, gardens, in the lake.
Is it clean
The DEQ has to
look at our air in Klamath County and decide
if it is clean enough to pollute further
before it can decide whether to permit more
industrial emissions. The DEQ would not permit
the Cob plant if it could significantly impact
the Klamath Falls "PM10" maintenance area,
which regulates particulates of 10 microns or
Air quality in
the Klamath Basin has steadily improved in the
past decade. Improvements in control and
process technology as well as the decrease in
the use of wood stoves as home heating devices
have all contributed to the better air quality
now enjoyed in the Basin. Businesses and
private citizens alike have worked hard to
improve the airshed in Klamath County. The
department recognizes this, and intends to
maintain good air quality in the Basin by
continuing the following:
The industrial permitting program.
Open burning letter permits and
Following the carbon mon-oxide and PM10
Funds and technical assistance for the
comes from the Department of Environmental
Quality memorandum of Dec. 22 dealing with the
public hearing on the air contaminant
discharge permit for the Cob energy
My husband and I
first lived in Klamath County in the late
1960s and early '70s. We were very young, and
he was a college student. We had more energy
than we had money. The home we bought didn't
have a furnace. We replaced an old,
inefficient, smoking oil heater with a nice
wood-burning stove with fan and thermostat. We
could usually get free firewood, and enjoyed
the cozy, wood heat.
Those of you who
are residents of Klamath Falls and have had a
wood heater or fireplace have been limited or
restricted from using wood heat. Now your
airshed is clean, so the state allows an
out-of-state industry to bring its industrial
pollution to your clear, sunny skies. And you
will still be restricted from use of your wood
heat. That would make me angry.
At a DEQ meeting
last summer, we asked something like, "How do
they determine allowable limits for
emissions?" We were told that those limits are
based on what is safe for a healthy adult. Of
course, it was explained, it could be harmful
to young children, the elderly and those with
health conditions. And that makes me very
angry, that our government does not protect
the most vulnerable in our society.
Yes, I think we
have government run amok. It decides in favor
of out-of-state industry instead of listening
to the concerns of its own constituents. It
makes decisions based on dollar signs rather
than on the health and safety of the
Not a done
plant may be here to stay, but the Cob Energy
Facility is not a done deal. The most
important part of the legal process concerning
its receiving a site permit is still before
We need the help
and support of all concerned citizens.
If you have
questions, or want to know where to find
additional information, please call Lyn or
Bill Brock at 545-1205, or Diana or Mario
Giordano at 545-6206 .
Although we are
often referred to as the "Stop the Cob" group,
we are actually an Oregon nonprofit mutual
benefit corporation named "Save Our Rural
Oregon." This is an all-volunteer
organization, and the support contributed by
the public goes to pay legal expenses.
The next step in
the process of opposing the siting of this
huge power plant is the contested case. It
will be expensive to fight this siting, but if
all concerned citizens will work with us, we
are prepared to take it through contested case
and on to the Oregon Supreme Court. If we
don't work together to oppose this siting,
construction could begin within one year.