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Guarino to take dam removal letter to Portland
Siskiyou Daily News September 25, 2009 (Letter by Siskiyou County Counsel Tom Guarino)
Yreka, Calif. - “We understand the parties negotiating the final version of this Agreement will meet to conclude the Hydropower Agreement in Portland, Ore. on Sept 28 and 29.
“The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors remains concerned that there is an intention to move forward in an attempt to remove the Klamath dams based upon politically-manipulated science and unsound environmental analyses. Specifically, it is charged that the Department of the Interior and the State of California have approved and allowed their agencies to support a dam removal effort that will fail to have sufficient funding to mitigate the economic and environmental harms to Siskiyou County. The Board of Supervisors notes as evidence of this intent the following:
“• Siskiyou County has repeatedly been promised that it would receive funding to participate in the underlying environmental studies to be conducted regarding the economic, social and environmental impacts of dam removal. We have learned that as this statement is being released, the Department of the Interior is proceeding with retaining contractors to conduct sediment studies without the promised Siskiyou County participation. It is our understanding that the initial proposal for these studies specifically excluded dioxin testing and sought to take samples from areas least likely to contain such contaminants. It should be noted that dioxin was detected in previous sampling.
“As of the preparation of this statement, the only thing the Board of Supervisors has been provided are promises and draft proposals that contain no commitments, no identification of studies to be done with Siskiyou County participation, and no funding.
“• The County of Siskiyou has been promised repeatedly that the impacts to Siskiyou County would be mitigated. However, when the current effort was made to slip in $250 million of funding into the water bond bill, which recently failed in Sacramento, there was a refusal by the negotiators for the State of California to include funding to replace the City of Yreka’s water supply, fund economic analyses of the impacts to Siskiyou County, and provide funding to fully mitigate anticipated impacts from any potential dam removal.
“• The Board of Supervisors learned last week at the meeting of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in Grenada that staff members of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB) and parties associated with those negotiating for dam removal met to discuss the water quality standards (TMDLs) that the NCRWQCB intended to adopt. We further learned that the modeling utilized by the NCRWQCB to develop the TMDL standards had had its code modified and other revisions made to the computer model that neither reflected scientifically achievable standards nor sound science, and in fact, based upon testimony of PacifiCorp, would mandate dam removal.
“The citizens of Siskiyou County should be aware that there appears to us to be an intentional manipulation taking place with respect to water quality standards and other activities regarding the permit necessary for PacifiCorp to continue to operate the hydroelectric facilities. It is our understanding that these standards will be such that there will be no alternative but dam removal, whether or not the Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement goes forward.
“The citizens of Siskiyou County should also be aware that a member of the NCRWQCB is the paid advocate for the Yuroks, who favor dam removal, in the negotiations for the Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement. Other critiques of the methodology for developing the proposed water quality standards provided by federal and other agencies lead this Board to the conclusion that this process has been intentionally manipulated to assure a predetermined outcome based on politics and not on sound science.
“• It is the understanding of the Board of Supervisors that unless they agree to sign the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), a document which has previously been reviewed and rejected and which contains serious flaws, both procedurally and scientifically, the County of Siskiyou will not be allowed to participate in the Final Settlement Agreement regarding the Klamath dams or receive any mitigations or funding for the impacts caused by removal.
“There should be no mistake, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Siskiyou continues to maintain its position that there are insufficient scientific studies of a credible nature to support a conclusion that the dams should be removed. We know from recent studies by the Center for Disease Control and the National Research Council that the existing science relied upon by many who promote removal of the dams is scientifically unsound.
“Over the past few weeks, this board has endeavored to work with representatives of the federal government and the state constructively, and in return we received responses lacking in the substantive details necessary to determine whether they would adequately protect the citizens of Siskiyou County, and in some instances, simply a failure to follow through in a meaningful manner. The State of California’s representatives have pointedly refused to provide in the proposed California $250 million for a dam removal bond any provisions to address the matters discussed above. The citizens of Siskiyou County should be aware that the intent is to slip the $250 million for removal of the Klamath dams into a larger water bond, possibly in the range of $11-12 billion dealing with water issues on a statewide basis. This board thanks Senator Aanestad and Assemblyman Nielsen for keeping it informed of these efforts and advocating for the interests of Siskiyou County.
“• Another issue which should be of concern to all is the intent of the state and federal governments to release PacifiCorp of all liability and not provide for any other party to assume that liability and responsibility for dam removal. As matters stand now, if the unknown Dam Removal Entity to be selected by Secretary Salazar fails to perform, has insufficient funding or does something like release contaminated sediment into the river, the citizens of Siskiyou County are left with the liability related thereto, the cost of which could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. If the United States and the State of California are so certain this is a safe, risk-worthy endeavor, they should step up and take that responsibility.
“It remains puzzling to our constituents, the citizens of Siskiyou County, how we historically have had record numbers of salmon after the dams were built, and yet, there are those advocates for removal that refuse to acknowledge this fact. The citizens of Siskiyou County and those advocating dam removal should be advised that the Yurok Tribe has already taken their allocation of 30,900 salmon this year and that salmon run this year is vigorous. However, if it remains the intent of the United States, Oregon and California to remove perfectly good hydroelectric dams, they should embark on such an endeavor based on sound science and be willing to be accountable for the harms they will cause.
“As noted above, we are told that there is a final meeting taking place in Portland, Ore. next week. We have directed our negotiator to attend this meeting and reiterate the following principles:
“1. That all science utilized in this process must meet President Obama’s Standards for Scientific Integrity and peer review.
“2. That no dam may be removed until all impacts identified by a robust NEPA and CEQA process are fully funded and performed.
“3. That as a necessary part of the NEPA and CEQA process, all economic and social impacts, as well as the impacts of anticipated activities under the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, and the cumulative impacts of federal policy actions are fully evaluated and analyzed in detail.
“4. That funding must be authorized to mitigate all impacts to the County of Siskiyou, including clean, renewable energy to replace the hydroelectric power to be lost and full funding for replacement of the City of Yreka’s water supply.
“5. That the County of Siskiyou be meaningfully included in all aspects of the environmental studies and the efforts to review the costs and benefits related to the issue of dam removal and that sufficient funding be specifically authorized to effectively engage in such process.”
Page Updated: Wednesday September 30, 2009 03:00 AM Pacific
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