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Siskiyou to join talks on dams
County wants to be represented in final negotiations
Siskiyou County supervisors, who publicly oppose removal of four K lamath River dams, will participate in negotiations that could lead to tearing down the dams.
Supervisor Jim Cook, whose district includes the Tulelake Basin and Butte Valley, said the county needed to be represented at upcoming talks to minimize potential adverse impacts to its residents.
Cook said the five supervisors unanimously agreed Tuesday to have county representatives, probably new county counsel Tom Guarino, participate in final negotiations for the proposed dam removal agreement. Supervisors agreed to sign a required confidentiality agreement so they could attend the closed talks.
Klamath County commissioners, citing the advice of legal counsel, said last month they would not participate in the talks because of the confidentiality stipulation. County counsel Dan Bunch was concerned that public officials could not be held to a confidentiality agreement.
At a December Siskiyou Supervisors meeting, PacifiCorp vice president and general counsel Dean Brockbank told the county it could benefit by participating in final talks.
“He told us, ‘Don’t be on the sideline,’ ” Cook said.
In its resolution, supervisors said it’s their understanding the county can “in good faith participate in negotiations for a final agreement without pre-commitment that dam removal is required.”
Dam removal is required for implementation of the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement , which allocates water among irrigators, conservationists, tribal interests and fisheries.
“We think the citizens of Siskiyou County should have some voice,” Cook added. “We still think it’s a mistake to get rid of non-carbon-emitting power, but we have to balance all those issues so we need to have a voice.”
Of the four dams, three — Copco No. 1 and No. 2 and Iron Gate — are in Siskiyou County. The fourth, the J.C. Boyle, is in Klamath County.
In November, PacifiCorp and federal Department of the Interior officials joined California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski to announce the non-binding dam removal agreement.
How it would work
If the proposal clears an extensive environmental review process, dam removal could begin by 2020. Cost estimates vary – some say $75 million, others say it could be more than $200 million – and the agreement would provide up to $450 million. Participating groups, including Siskiyou County, will study the effects and implications of removing the dams. Cook did not know when the closed negotiations would resume.
FERC meetings planned
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) scheduled two meetings Jan. 29 in Yreka, to discuss the impacts of a proposed agreement that could lead to the removal of four Klamath River dams.
The meetings will be at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Best Western Miner’s Inn. Agency officials said they would take public comment on how the proposed dam removal agreement could impact the relicensing process.
PacifiCorp, which owns the four dams, filed an application to relicense its Klamath hydroelectric project with FERC in 2004.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
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