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Mixed views on dam removal

by Ty Beaver, Oct 8/09

Federal lawmakers from Oregon and California are voicing mixed thoughts on a Klamath River dam removal agreement released last week.

A few have called it a good step forward while others disagree. U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., who represents Modoc County, called it insanity.

Here’s a breakdown of the statements provided by those in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Walden hadn’t released any comments on the dam removal agreement. There was no response to an e-mail seeking comment and follow-up phone calls made Monday morning and afternoon were not returned.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

Merkley’s spokes-woman, Julie Edwards, said in an e-mail that the senator met with those on both sides of the dam removal issues. The last few years have included difficult discussions but also dedication and tenacity from those involved, she said.

The senator now looks forward to reviewing the dam removal agreement and hearing from the public about it.

“It is critically important that members of the community take the opportunity to weigh in during the public comment period,” Edwards said.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Wyden characterized the release of the dam removal agreement as an excellent start and called it a landmark settlement agreement in comments provided by his office.

“Improving fish runs on the Klamath River while preserving farming and wildlife is vital to the future of the Klamath Basin,” Wyden said. “(The) settlement agreement to address the issue of dam removal is a major step toward achieving these goals.”

U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.

“I think it’s absolute insanity,” McClintock said of the dam removal agreement.

The congressman said Californians already are paying some of the highest energy prices in the country and that it is sheer lunacy to get rid of some of the cheapest power available.

He said some environmental groups are still not happy with the dam removal agreement and could continue to fight it.

“It’s very clear this solves nothing and adds to our electricity and water shortages,” McClintock said. “I will oppose it at every step of the way.”

U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.

Herger said he is dismayed that overarching and unyielding environmental policy was forcing the possibility of dam removal. In a press release provided by his office, the congressman representing Siskiyou County said he found it contradictory the dams could be removed based on state law and the need for renewable energy and water storage.

The Endangered Species Act is driving the concept of dam removal, when it also brought about the Klamath Basin water crisis in 2001 and is now impacting California’s Central Valley, he said.

“From the spotted owl to salmon and suckerfish to the delta smelt, we continue to witness the impacts of federal policy that leave our citizens picking up the pieces of their livelihood,” Herger said.

The congressman said he is pleased the U.S. Department of Interior appears committed to studying the implications of dam removal, but the consequences of dam removal also need to be mitigated.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Feinstein said the dam removal agreement was an important step forward and commended those who’d worked on the document, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

“I recognize that there are still some concerns that need to be addressed from some parties, and I encourage all parties to continue to work together to resolve them,” said the senator in a press release.

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              Page Updated: Friday October 09, 2009 01:27 AM  Pacific

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