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Commission opposes Klamath water pact;
House must approve bill before it reaches Obama
  Herald and News by SAMANTHA TIPLER  11/16/14
     Klamath County commissioners are drafting a letter voicing their opposition to SB 2379, the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act.

   On Thursday, the senate bill, which encompasses the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and the Upper Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, passed through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to the Senate floor. The bill must be approved by the House before it reaches the president’s desk.

   “We don’t support Senate Bill 2379 in its current form,” said commissioner Dennis Linthicum. “That needs to get stated in a single sentence up front that our counties don’t support Senate Bill 2379 in its current form. Bingo.”

   United front

   The Klamath County board was amending a letter written by the Siskiyou County board of supervisors. The commissioners called Siskiyou County’s letter “weak” and spent an hour and a half beefing it up in a work session Friday afternoon.

   “Make it more powerful. Make it stronger. Make sure everyone recognizes that Klamath County does not support Senate Bill 2379 in its current form,” Linthicum said. “Let everyone know that’s where we stand.”

   The commissioners’ primary point of opposition: dam removal.

   The KBRA and KHSA plans include removing four dams on the Klamath River. They also attempt to establish reliable water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators, restore fish habitat and help the Klamath Tribes acquire the 92,000-acre Mazama Tree Farm.  “We need to show them there isn’t local support. There is definitely a lot of people here in the community and in Siskiyou County that don’t support dam removal, especially,” commission chairman Jim Bellet said. “There is support for a solution, but not necessarily the dam removal.”

   Commissioner Tom Mallams agreed.

   “The dam removal in this bill is the major issue,” he said.

   “It’s a major issue with this board,” Bellet added.  

   Private vs. public

   If PacifiCorp wants to remove its dams on the Klamath River, the commissioners argued, the company should   do that without government intervention.

   “The federal government should not be passing legislation to create a billion dollar removal and restoration mitigation effort on behalf of a private utility,” Linthicum said.

   The commissioners plan to send a draft of their letter to Siskiyou County early next week. After the Californians approve it, the Klamath County commissioners will send it to Congress. They debated whether to send it to both the Senate and the House now, or just the Senate.

   The commissioners plan to meet again early next week in a public meeting to approve the letter. They may do it remotely, as they will be in Eugene most of the week for the Association of Oregon Counties annual conference.  

    stipler@heraldandnews.com   @TiplerHN; Information from stories by Herald and News reporter Lacey Jarrell was used in this story.



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