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Controversy grows over position — or lack of one — on dam removalSome K la math County Republicans say a letter written by three state lawmakers incorrectly implies where the Oregon Republican Party stands on the issue of removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River.
State. Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, said that while he’s not aware of the state party specifically discussing Klamath River dam removal, the party’s platform indicates the party is opposed to the idea.Joe Spendolini, chairman of the Klamath County Republican Central Committee, a n d i r r i g a t o r K a r l Scronce said the letter, printed in Friday’s edition of the Herald and News, implied the state pa r ty is specif ica lly against removal of the Klamath River dams, something it hasn’t discussed.
Dam removal, a key component of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, is a prominent issue in the debate over the document.Proponents have said dam removal would allow habitat restoration and the return of salmon runs, while opponents have cited the need for hydroelectric power and the negative impact dam removal would have on property values.
Members of the Klamath County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution opposing the restoration agreement and dam removal earlier this year.In the Legislature
Whitsett and state Reps. Bill Garrard, RK la mat h Fa l ls, a nd George Gilman, R-Medford, voiced their opposition to dam removal months before voting against a bill that passed the Oregon Legislature to allow PacifiCorp to charge its customers for dam removal if studies find it feasible.Garrard said a letter from the Klamath Tribes printed in the Herald and News on May 30 telling state lawmakers to get out of the way was the final fuse that pushed h i m t o oppose d a m removal.
“For God’s sake, what kind of democracy is this?” he said.W hitsett said he’s received only comments of support for the letter and that no one has questioned the letter’s stance on the state party’s platform regarding dam removal.
Scronce, who has a letter in today’s (Thursday’s) edition of the Herald and News, writes that the lawmakers’ letter contained distortion.“These few people are selfishly attempting to manipulate the minds of many to serve a personal agenda,” reads Scronce’s letter.
GOP positionBob Tiernan, chairm a n of t he O r egon Republican Party, told the Herald and News in late June that while dam removal and the restoration agreement are important, it does not need to involve the broader Republican Party.
Garrard said he contacted Tiernan later and told Tiernan he resented being told what stance to take on an issue.Whitsett said Tiernan wasn’t familiar with the state party’s platform and the fact that nearly every Republican in the Oregon Legislature voted against the dam removal bill was proof the party is united against it.
Andrew Over, executive director for the Oregon Republican Party, declined comment.
Page Updated: Friday August 07, 2009 04:32 AM Pacific
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