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Purported benefits of ESA deserve 'the rest of the story'

by TOM MALLAMS for the Capital Press 6/23/11. Tom Mallams of Beatty, Ore., is president of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users Association.

I appreciated your recent editorial ("Reveal the invisible price tag," June 3) dealing with the massive costs because of out of control use of the Endangered Species Act.

The negative response from Glen Spain and Mark Rockwell was to be expected. Their focus on the so-called wonderful benefits of removing hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River needs to be clarified.

Yes, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report estimated dam removal cost -- structures only -- to be $79.9 million in 2006 numbers. As Paul Harvey would say, now for "the rest of the story."

In the same report, on pages 4-8 through 4-10, it states that the added cost of dam removal because of the sediment issues could be between $1.4 billion to $4.4 billion. I don't know about you, but I have never seen a government estimate come in at the low number.

Upgrading dams is the obvious cost-effective direction that this same FERC report recommended.

Upgrading the dams would not only address environmental issues, but would surely add new, more efficient, higher-performing turbines, which could make the dams financially viable. This is not a time to be taking out existing, green power-producing hydroelectric dams.

Neither the public utilities commission in Oregon nor California approved dam removal; they only approved rate increases to fund dam removal if they indeed are destroyed.

The real inequity of the current rate increases we are paying now for a possible dam removal is that when dams are not removed, those funds will not be refunded to ratepayers. PacifiCorp has openly admitted this to be the case. The only reason PacifiCorp is willing to sacrifice the dams is the open threat of endless litigation derived from ESA regulation. This is a fact admitted by Dean Brockbank, vice president of PacifiCorp.

Salmon are on a continuing cycle of high and low numbers. Some of the largest runs of salmon are recorded after the dams were in place on the Klamath River.

The Klamath Lake and Klamath River have never been and never will be the cold, crystal-clear water bodies the dam removal advocates claim will magically appear with dam destruction.

If anyone believes there is little cost to this out-of-control ESA, you have not looked at the cost of fuel, electricity, food, the unemployment numbers, home foreclosures, the ability to fund schools and law enforcement. The list goes on forever. All are directly tied to the ESA.

That is "the rest of the story!"



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