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Siskiyou worried about dams
County supervisors want to know alternatives, get real appraisal
by Lee Juillerat, Herald and News 3/15/09

   Siskiyou County supervisors have asked President Barack Obama to investigate federal agencies involved in ongoing talks that could lead to removal of four Klamath River dams. 

   Supervisor Jim Cook, whose district includes Butte Valley and the Tulelake Basin, said a letter was sent last week because of concerns that discussions for an agreement in principle (AIP) and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement violate the National Environmental Policy Act. 

   “We really want an honest appraisal of all the alternatives,” Cook said, noting he and other supervisors support developing off-stream water storage in the Upper Klamath Basin and making“ whole” people and groups that would suffer adverse economic impacts if the dams are removed. 

   The letter, written by the council’s counsel, Thomas Guarino, and signed by Cook and four other supervisors, says the agreement in principle reached by governors of Oregon and California, Pacif ic Power and the Department of the Interior was reached without input from Siskiyou County. 

   3 dams in California 

   Of the four dams, the three in California are all in Siskiyou County. 

   Cook said he and other supervisors believe the AIP was intentionally done before the Bush administration left office and does not adequately address the financial or environmental costs of removing the dams. He said some government agency representatives involved in the AIP publicly said years ago they favored dam removal. 

   The letter says, “No reliable economic analyses have been conducted regarding the impacts on the local economy,” and claims the release of dioxins behind the dams will damage fish populations. 

   “ It is particularly discouraging that your administration is apparently aiding these parties in obtaining legislation that would remove the process from effective environmental review,” the letter says. 

   It also claims dam removal would result in the loss of clean hydroelectrical power and questions “how this type of activity is consistent with your administration’s reported goal of encouraging clean power.” 

   Cook said the letter has resulted in critical comments from various agencies, including Jim Chrisman, California’s secretary for natural resources, who helped draw up the AIP. Calls to Chrisman’s office were not returned. 

   “We thought it was a simple letter, but we’ve had some reactions,” Cook said. “We had several people who thought it was inappropriate. I didn’t think it was that inflammatory.” 

   Copies of the letter were sent to congressmen in Oregon and California, Klamath County commissioners and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. 

   Cook said there has not been a response from Obama.
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