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Lies, Dam Lies, and Peer Review—Removing the Klamath Dams

The Northwest Connection, March 2012, Page 15, by Mark Anderson

First off, the “public meetings” held in the Klamath Basin, designed to build consensus, were anything but public. Oregon State Senator Doug Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls), talked to me on the I Spy Radio Show and told me something that, to this day, I find blindingly offensive.
Mark Anderson host of I SpyBack in 2008 when
Nancy Pelosi and Barack
Obama were in full-spin
talked about how government
needed to be more transparent?
Of course, what they meant by
“transparent” and what most
people mean by “transparent”
are two entirely different
things. Loosely translated,
“transparency” means, “You’ll
see what we want you to
see.” It’s like the Wizard of
Oz putting on a front.
But every now and then, when
you do get a peek behind the
curtain, it’s so ugly and so
unbearably shocking that one
actually hopes to be struck
blind, praying to God you
didn’t see what you just saw.
Case in point is what’s
happening in the Klamath
Basin and the effort by the
far left to remove the dams.
The Wizard wants you to think
this has been a transparent
and therefore legitimate
process where very divergent
groups—the tribes, the power
company, environmentalists,
fisheries, farmers, and
ranchers—came to “consensus.”
And all of the decisions
were based on scientific and
therefore impartial studies.
That ain’t how it happened.
Squint if you need to, but let’s
take a peek behind the curtain.
First off, the “public meetings”
held in the Klamath Basin,
designed to build consensus,
were anything but public.
Oregon State Senator Doug
Whitsett (R- Klamath Falls),
talked to me on the I Spy
Radio Show and told me
something that, to this day,
I find blindingly offensive.
The meetings were only open to
a select few—mainly to those
the organizers knew in advance
were predisposed to removing
the dams. The meetings were
closed to the press, closed to the
public, closed to public officials,
and if you did get in, you
had to sign a confidentiality
agreement beforehand that said
you wouldn’t discuss anything
said in the room. And that you
would agree to the outcome no
matter what it was. If you didn’t
agree to those preconditions,
you weren’t allowed in.
This is a clear and, in my
mind, violent abuse of the
public meeting laws.
The use of the word “violent”


is not accidental. We have
information that someone who
came out of that meeting was
so distraught, and took such
a shock to his sensibilities,
that he committed suicide.
There is also good evidence
that the PacifiCorp, the power
company that holds the leases
on the dams, was strong-armed
into the agreement. Publicly
agree and things will go well
for you; disagree, and it won’t
matter because we won’t renew
the dams’ lease anyway. I
could be wrong, but I suspect
the mafia creates “consensus”
this exact same way.
After the “agreement,” the
only obstacle in their way
was a pesky little thing called
funding. Even the most
strident environmentalist
won’t do anything if someone
else isn’t paying for it.
To keep the appearance of still
needing to make up his mind
(it’s pretty clear he already
has when he’s said publicly
it would be “un-American
to vote against removing the
dams), Interior Secretary Ken
Salazar commissioned a report
for dam removal to provide
an “assessment of science and
technical information.” In
other words, what’s it going
to cost, how many fish will be
saved, and what would be the
environmental and economic
impacts of dam removal.
Naturally, this report is
based on sound, “peer
reviewed” science (you know,
that thing that causes—I
mean, “confirms” global
warming). Peer reviewed
is the “gold standard” for
anything scientific.
We talked with Dr. Bob
Zybach, who has a Ph.D. in
Environmental Science from
OSU and who also spent 20+
years in forestry, about this
whole peer-review process.
If you’re like me, you assumed
“peer review” meant fact
checking, devil’s advocate, and
even a standardized process to
this. Nope. Not one bit. Each
“peer review” makes up its
own rules. Imagine practicing
law in hundreds of different
courts where each court had
its own procedural rules and
laws. That’s the peer review
process. As Dr. Zybach put it,
“[it’s] checking out each other’s
models for
whether they’re
but not
checking them
out as far as
And among me
and my friends,
we all like
the Dodgers,
so we have
You can guess how this “peer
reviewed” study turned out.
By the way, I should mention
that Dr. Zybach is part of
the Environmental Sciences
Independent Peer Review
Institute (www.
esipri.org), which is
comprised of current
and retired scientists
who want to reform
the peer-review
process. They just
launched last month.
So where are we at
now? Sec. Salazar
is due to make
his decision in
March, and back
in Nov. 2011, Sen.
Merkley introduced a bill to
codify (fund) the Klamath
Agreement. Strange—wouldn’t
you think you should wait
for the Secretary to make
up his mind before you
ask to fund his decision?
The end of the page is fast
approaching, so I’m going to
have to resort to bullet points
(this is what happens when you
try to condense 4 hours of radio and dozens of hours of research into a 1,500-word article): The report says this will only cost $291 million but
that’s only to remove the
dams. Merkley’s bill requests
$750 million—and you
know that’s low-balling it.
That total does not account
for the economic loss of power
by yanking out four fully
functioning dams—another
$1.3 billion—or replacing
them with politically favored
green power. Minimum
total costs, $2–3 billion.
$200 million of this is going
to come from PacifiCorp
ratepayers—to tear down
dams that currently
power their homes.
The report forecasts an 83%
increase in fish, which sounds
like a lot but if you remember
your math that’s not even
doubling the population
(which would be 100%).
We’re spending $3 billion
and not even doubling
the fish population?
The study doesn’t account for
the disposal costs for the 22
million tons of accumulated silt
behind the dams. According
to Sen. Whitsett, that’s a line
of quad-axel dump trucks
stretching 12,500 miles.
Dam-removal proponents
assume (hope) the silt will
wash out to sea and not choke
the Klamath. However, this
is exactly what happened on
similar rivers. Sen. Whitsett
and his geologist wife believe
it’s a disaster in the making.
According to Congressman
Tom McClintock (R-Granite
Bay, CA), the study does
not count the more than 1
million adult fish from the
Iron Gate fisheries. If counted,
these fish would multiply
the number of “official” fish
by more than 22.5 times,
thereby grossly undercounting
the fish in the river.
If the dams are pulled out,
the fishery is also slated to be
destroyed—along with the
million-plus fish it generates.
To demonstrate “public
support” for dam removal,
the study sent out 10,000
surveys—not just to the
Klamath Basin but nationwide.
Respondents were encouraged
to reply, “even if you have
never heard of the Klamath
River.” That’s right. People in
Ohio and Massachusetts can
now weigh in on what we do
here in Oregon. (Some good
news: Oregonians are now
qualified to weigh in on traffic
flow in New York City.)
76% of these non-scientific
surveys were sent to people
outside the Klamath Basin.
It should be blindingly
obvious that
this agreement
and process has
been hugely
flawed and that
outcomes have
been based on
nothing short
of outright
lies by the
who want to
return the river
to its pre-historic
(pre-man) condition. (If this
bugs you, isn’t it worth a call
to Sen. Merkley’s office to say
you’re opposed to his bill?)
Fortunately, Congressman
McClintock sits like a dam
blocking all this. As the chair
of the subcommittee that
would hear this, he is solidly
against it. However, he realizes
dam-removal supporters may
try to slip it in another bill to
bypass his committee. That,
or simply hope McClintock
and the Republicans are
voted out. Once that
happens, all bets are off.
I’ve said it before: Oregon is
the Petri dish for all things
environmental and it does not
stop here. This is a test of their
methods. According to an eye
witness, in a December 2010
meeting in Klamath Falls, the
Commissioner of the Bureau of
Reclamation called removing
the Klamath dams a “precedent
setting event,” indicating to
those who heard it that the
Snake and Columbia are next.
There is a colossal fight
ahead. Just one of the dam
removal proponents, American
Rivers, has dedicated $100
million to taking out dams
all over the country.
But this is also why we need
to stand with our neighbors in
Klamath. If we can’t stop this
here and now, no river is safe.
If you’d like to hear our
interviews with Sen. Whitsett,
Cong. McClintock, and Dr.
Zybach, they’re available
as free downloads from
www.ispyradio.com .
Mark Anderson is an MBA and
the host of the I Spy Radio Show, heard Saturdays, 11-noon, on KYKN (1430-am) in the greater Salem area or anywhere via kykn.com. Podcasts are
also available after the show
airs via www.ispyonsalem.com  He can be reached at
mark@ispyonsalem.com .
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have
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