Supervisors ask Obama to investigate dam issues
by Dale Andreasen Mount Shasta Area Newspapers March 11, 2009
Yreka, Calif. - The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors
approved a strongly worded letter to President Barack Obama during
their regular meeting Tuesday of last week, asking for an
investigation into the Department of the Interior and other
federal agencies involved in activities to remove dams on the
The letter, prepared by county counsel Thomas Guarino, was signed
by all five supervisors. It voices their concern that dam removal
efforts circumvent the National Environmental Policy Act and
“remove any liability or responsibility with respect to the
removal of these facilities.”
“Such an approach to this issue is likely to be harmful to the
citizens of Siskiyou County, California,” the letter states.
The letter relates the Agreement in Principle that was reached
among the Department of Interior, the governors of Oregon and
California and with Pacific Power to “remove those facilities
without the consent of the people of Siskiyou County.”
“In fact,” the letter continues, “no reliable economic analyses
have been conducted regarding the impacts on the local economy.
There is a likelihood of dioxin behind the dams and the result of
the removal of these facilities will cause serious deleterious
effects on aquatic habitat and species.”
The supervisors ask for urgent and immediate attention, asserting
that dam removal will require “expenditures of billions of
dollars” and cause serious economic dislocation to the county
without compensation and “result in the federal government
unilaterally usurping the authority of the local elected body to
effectively carry out the will of the citizens…”
The letter alleges that “the principle parties have publicly
indicated that the removal of the dams is imminent, even before
any environmental review is conducted.”
“It is particularly discouraging that your administration is
apparently aiding these parties in obtaining legislation that
would remove the process from effective environmental review,
avoid NEPA … threaten the water supply of the City of Yreka, and
place sole decision-making authority in the hands of the Secretary
of the Interior over one of the most significant natural resources
in the United States,” the letter continues.
The letter says it is “disturbing” that the Obama administration
is supporting the removal of clean, hydroelectric power for 70,000
homes with replacement energy from the use of coal-fired power
“Perhaps someone in your administration can provide guidance and
insight as to how this type of activity is consistent with your
administration’s reported goal of encouraging clean power,” the
The supervisors note that they have previously tried to contact
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, but have received no response.
The letter also outlines the county’s attempted contact with the
General Services Administration’s Committee Management Secretariat
in regard to the many secretive meetings that have been held,
noting possible violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
The letter points out that the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission has been contacted, but has not provided any
“meaningful response” to the board’s inquiries.
“At the last FERC meeting in Yreka … ,” the letter continues, “the
representative of the United States stated that he neither
represented the current nor the former administrations.
It certainly would be helpful to know who represents your
administration in these activities.”
“We would respectfully request that you direct someone in your
administration to meaningfully respond to the concerns of the
County of Siskiyou before it is too late,” the letter concludes.
Copies of the letter were sent to senators and U..S.
representatives from Oregon and California and to the Klamath
County board of commissioners and the Humboldt County board of
A separate letter was approved to be sent to Congressman Wally
Herger asking for his help with the dam removal situation.