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Supervisors release CDM statement

by David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News March 11, 2009

Yreka, Calif. - At their March 3 meeting, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors issued a statement with regard to a report released by Camp, Dresser and McKee,Inc. (CDM). The report, released earlier this year by the Department of the Interior at the behest of the supervisors, details potential costs associated with dam decommissioning and removal along the Klamath River.

In the statement, the supervisors say, “The Board of Supervisors only recently learned of the existence of this Report and is becoming concerned that decisions are being made in Oregon and elsewhere without adequate consideration of the additional millions of dollars and likely billions identified for completion of sound environmental review and removal of the dams.”

The supervisors go on to say, “It is disappointing to the Board to discover that the United States has had a report in its possession since July 2008, and possibly earlier, that identifies a significant impact that it did not feel compelled to more timely share with the participants.”

A preface to the report states that the report was originally intended for internal use in determining various possible additional costs that may arise in a dam removal scenario, and states, “We understand the potential for those who oppose dam removal to identify isolated portions of the analysis and postulations of the CDM Report regarding quantification of risk. But because the Secretary will undertake his own analysis, informed by all the parties to the Final Agreement for Dam Removal, these postulations are of limited applicability in the final analysis..

“We encourage the parties to focus on the Report’s true value: its identification of factors and data gaps in the science that must be addressed in order for the Secretarial determination of 2012 to be fully informed and sound.”

It is also stated that the estimated costs do not include any offsetting benefits or alternative methods of decommissioning or removal.

The supervisors also state, referencing Oregon’s Senate Bill 76 introduced by Governor Ted Kulongoski, “It is the opinion of the Board of Supervisors that the legislators in Oregon may have wished to have this in hand prior to their imposition of $180 Million in costs on their ratepayers.”

The bill allows PacifiCorp to add a surcharge to ratepayers’ bills to fund a $200 million trust fund set up to pay for costs of dam removal.

The surcharge is capped at $200 million, spread across PacifiCorp’s ratepayers over a period of 10 years, and the language of the bill includes a stipulation that if money is collected into the fund and dam removal is not pursued, the money will either be directly refunded to the customers or otherwise used to benefit them.

The supervisors’ statement also details qualms about the estimated additional costs of dam removal, its lack of inclusion in the process and also what they claim may be an attempt to circumvent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and National Environmental Policy Act guidelines, with regard to dam removal and decommissioning strategy..

The board, assuring that it will continue to fight to be heard in the dam process, says in the statement, “The Board will continue to vigorously assert the rights of the County of Siskiyou; however, the citizens of this County should be aware that the substantial forces arrayed against the County and the vast sums available to them are likely to significantly affect our efforts given the current economic situation and drastic cuts in funding available to the County.” 

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