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INTISO VS. STATE OF CALIFORNIA – DAVID VS. GOLIATH? Author: Bob Kaster is a long-time Yreka resident and retired Superior Court Judge. Published in Siskiyou Daily News 3/30/23
followed by court information
Demolishing four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River, three in California and one in Oregon, is a dumb and harmful idea. Unfortunately, it seems that the train has already left the station, and being dumb and harmful won’t stop its progress. As I have attempted to point out in columns over the past several years (a futile gesture, it seems) there are a million reasons why removing the dams is an incredibly stupid idea. A million? Well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but maybe not. Here are a few of the reasons, along with links to my articles.
The above reasons dam removal is a terrible idea are the tip of the iceberg, and I have articulated them in previous columns. Many more are listed in an informational pamphlet recently promoted by the Siskiyou County Water Users Association..... This document was created for a presentation the Association gave to the California Republican Party Spring Convention held earlier this month in Sacramento, which resulted in the passage of this resolution: “Be it resolved that the CAGOP condemns the actions of Governor Gavin Newsom for purposefully making California’s water situation worse, increasing energy costs, and depriving the Citizens of their voice in this important local matter.” It is unfortunate that the dam demolition issue is caught up in today’s world of political partisanship, but it highlights the fact that voices of the citizens who live in the counties where the dams are physically located are simply ignored by the people in power in the federal and the state governments of Oregon and California. The majority of the voters in rural California counties like Siskiyou are largely Republican, whereas most voters in the rest of the state are Democrat.
As I said, it appears that the train has already left the station on the dam issue, and I think most people have given up hope. The Siskiyou County Supervisors, who have previously devoted county resources to defeat the project appear to have given up hope. And I believe the same can be said for Yreka City Council members, who have a genuine concern for how the demolition project will affect the city’s water supply. City and County officials are justifiably conflicted, as they are tasked with the stewardship of their constituents’ funds and are righteously cautious about spending their declining resources for a lost cause, no matter how important.
But before I throw in the towel, I want to alert you to a quirky little “David vs. Goliath” lawsuit presently winding its way through the Siskiyou County Superior Court, called ANTHONY INTISO VS. THE STATE OF CALIFORNA, Case #22CV00609. I have been tracking this case since it was first filed, and wrote about it last December: ANOTHER DAM MYSTERY – Bob Kaster
When Mr. Intiso first filed the case, he did not have a lawyer. Now, blessedly, he has one, and he needs one because, as I predicted, the lawsuit is now being defended by a phalanx of lawyers from the California State Attorney General’s office. The names on the State’s pleadings include Attorney General Rob Bonta and four other attorneys from his office in Sacramento.
The issues presented in his lawsuit are straightforward and simple. In 2014, California’s voters passed Proposition 1 (the Bond Act). The Bond Act authorized $7.545 billion in general obligation bonds to fund, among other things, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration. The Bond Act was worded in a way that voters would not likely have understood that $250 million of the bond funds would be used to destroy Klamath River dams, but this is what the State of California has committed toward the project. Mr. Intiso filed his lawsuit under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 523a, which arguably allows a taxpayer to sue to prevent the state, or an officer thereof, from making an illegal expenditure of the State’s funds. As a taxpayer, Mr. Intiso claims the expenditure of $250 million of the Bond Act funds for dam removal is illegal for two reasons: First, that the wording of the Bond Act presented to the voters didn’t let them know that a portion of the funds would be used for dam removal; and, second, that the express language of the Bond Act itself provided that its funds “shall not be available for any project that could have an adverse effect on the values upon which a wild and scenic river or any other river is afforded protections pursuant to the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act or the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.” Mr. Intiso argues, not unreasonably, that dam removal will indeed have such an adverse effect.
The State responded with a 20-page demurrer expressing numerous objections, many technical or procedural. The case is set for hearing March 30 in the Siskiyou County Superior Court. I won’t try to predict the outcome, but I have to give Mr. Intiso credit for hanging in there. Will it end up like Davy Crockett at the Alamo? I hope not.
The court Klamath Dam Destruction hearing was JUST changed to sometime in May in Yreka, Rm 2 Siskiyou County new Courthouse.
From Siskiyou County Water Users Association President Richard Marshall: "THIS HEARING WILL BE THE DECIDING FACTOR WHETHER THE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA(NEWSOM) AND PAST GOVERNOR OF OREGON (BROWN) WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IN DESTROYING OUR HYDROELECTRIC DAMS WHICH PROVIDE CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY AS WELL AS PROVIDING A NATURAL METHOD OF CLEANING OUR WATER. IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE CITIZENS OF SISKIYOU AND KLAMATH COUNTIES WHERE THE DAMS ARE LOCATED HAD NO SAY IN THE DECISION MAKING-NO SEAT AT THE TABLE. KRRC A THIRD PARTY CONTRACTOR FOR THE STATE, IS THE CORPORATION THAT HAS BEEN SPECIFICALLY SET UP TO HANDLE THE DEMOLITION PROJECT AND HAS ALREADY STARTED THE FIRST PHASE OF THE PROJECT. THE EFFECTS ARE ALREADY BEING FELT. ONCE THE DEMOLITION IS COMPLETE KRRC WILL DISSOLVE AND WALK AWAY LEAVING THE COUNTY TO BEAR THE BURDEN OF DEALING WITH THE LIABILITY THAT WILL FOLLOW. JUDGE KASTER A WELL RESPECTED SISKIYOU COUNTY JUDGE, NOW RETIRED, HAS WRITTEN SEVERAL ARTICLES OVER THE YEARS ABOUT THE EFFORTS BY ENVIRONMENTALISTS AND OTHERS TO GET THE DAMS REMOVED AND THE GOVERNMENT (FEDERAL AND STATE) INVOLVEMENT WHEN THE U.S. CONGRESS REFUSED TO AUTHORIZE THE DAM REMOVAL. NOT TO BE DETERRED, THOSE INDIVIDUALS WERE ABLE TO GET A GOVERNMENT AGENCY, THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATION COMMISSION (FERC) TO APPROVE THE DAM REMOVAL BYPASSING CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL.
URGING EVERYONE THAT CAN TO ATTEND THE HEARING TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR THE PENDING LAWSUIT.
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