Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
First, who is Craig Tucker? and Glen Spain?
From our Who's Who page of "Stakeholders" allowed at the closed-door Klamath settlement negotiations:
Karuk spokesman "Craig Tucker "gave up laboratory science for a career as an environmental and social justice activist. In 2000 Craig joined Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing. While in Green Corp, Craig learned fundamental grassroots organizing skills. After Green Corps he worked as Outreach Director at Friends of the River, developing grassroots campaigns on a variety of California water issues. Each campaign was based on the connection between sustainable environmental policy and social justice. Currently Craig is the Campaign Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe's 'Bring the Salmon Home' campaign. The goal: removal of four dams on the Klamath River which would represent the largest dam removal project in history."
International River wrote an article, Learning from the Pros, featuring an Interview with Craig Tucker on how he pulled off this dam removal scheme that downsizes agriculture in the Klamath Basin.
Tucker along with Glen Spain, were involved in campaigns against PacifiCorp's dams, including organizing trips to Scotland when Scottish Power owned the Klamath dams. He is involved with groups financing the campaign and films to promote the anti-infrastructure agenda. See more on our Whose Who Craig Tucker page.
Eugene attorney Glen Spain is Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen regional director.
He has claimed we are irrigating a desert, when in fact our valley was a lake up to 30 feet deep in a closed basin. We had to divert our water OUT of the basin into the Klamath River so we can farm, artificially elevating the historic river flows.
Spain and Klamath River tribes petitioned against the irrigators' power rate so they would "reduce irrigation," according to a 2005 report: "the Klamath Basin is so water-starved that every effort should be made to conserve rather than provide economic incentives to waste...''
Another quote from Spain: Fishy Politics; Utility regulators face fishing-or-farmers decision, Willamette Weekly 4/12/06. "Spain argues that providing a cut rate to Klamath farmers worsens the underlying salmon problems by letting farmers get off too cheaply for water use...'A heavily subsidized power system promotes water waste when we need every drop,' Spain says.'
In today's status quo article, Spain sells his pitch by pretending he supports "affordable power rates" for irrigators.
So there is the blackmail...the tribes and PCFFA petitioned against our reasonable power rate. The blackmail is, if we agree to dam removal and permanently downsizing agriculture and planting endangered fish in the basin, and agree to having Fish and Wildlife swamps next to our property and agree they are not liable to any home or crop damage, if we agree to a non-consensus group to rule our communities, with permission to change the water allocations if fish don't thrive or their climate change studies demand it, if we agree to the secret negotiations with no transparency to the communities, giving land to the Klamath Tribes that they sold, giving senior water rights to the Klamath Tribes, downsizing off-project irrigation while disallowing them to be at the table, changing the purpose of the Klamath Project to include fish and wildlife, and agreeing with their drought plan for farmers that they have not yet created in this non-consensus group, then they will agree to give irrigators $30 million of this billion dollar deal to create an affordable power source.
When Klamath irrigators were meeting with coastal fishermen to work together for solutions, PCFFA's spokesman Glen Spain wrote them a letter to persuade them to abandon talks with the irrigators: Dear Oregon Trollers and Oregon Fishing Industry Leaders, from Glen Spain, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen (PCFFA) April 16, 2005. "to be blunt the leadership of the Klamath Water User's Association (KWUA) do not care about fish -- they care about making sure they have all the irrigation water they want, and the fish be damned. The current closed door efforts of the KWUA to "woo" certain salmon trollers on the Oregon coast to their cause is one example of how they hope to use fishermen for their purposes."
PCFFA has sued against Klamath River suction dredge mining along with the Karuk Tribe, sued against irrigators being compensated when the federal government took their legally-deeded water in 2001, and they oppose the farmers in Central California getting needed water to keep their farms alive. They, along with Klamath Riverkeeper, were part of a continued lawsuit (2009 Court petition HERE) to demand California Water Board enforce water quality mandates against the farmers and ranchers. Tucker is on the Riverkeeper board of directors.
Go to Glen Spain page for more on PCFFA at the secret Klamath settlement negotiations.
Tucker, Spain, and their environmental groups, filed constant lawsuits against the power companies and irrigators to blackmail them all into submission with verbal promises to the irrigators for a "resolution to the water wars," wars they have created with their lawsuits.
So our farm leaders have been blackmailed into an "agreement,' with no vote from their constituents, to support a several-hundred-page final document by the first of September that the negotiators have not yet seen. It will bind individual Klamath Project Water Users to cede rights and water that they have not individually agreed to.
The status quo with dams won’t work
by Glen Spain and Craig Tucker, Herald and News Letter to the Editor 8/30/09
Siskiyou County Supervisor Michael Kobseff recently issued a barrage of articles arguing against removal of Klamath dams. Although the decision to remove or not warrants healthy debate, Kobseff’s letters demonstrate a poor understanding of the facts.
Kobseff and other county leaders continue to oppose the plan to finance a portion of dam removal through power rate increases. Obviously, no one wants their power bills increased. However, in this case status quo dam operations are not an option and neither are status quo power rates.
Dam owner PacifiCorp simply does not have the option of operating the dams in the future the same way it has in the past. At the very least, PacifiCorp will be required to meet mandatory terms and conditions for a new license that include construction of fish ladders and increased in-stream flows. Cost estimates for these measures range as high as $480 million. That’s a steep upgrade for a complex of dams that are marginal power producers at best.
The final Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s analysis concluded that retaining the four dams and implementing mandatory terms and conditions set forth by federal agencies would result in a dam project that operated at a $20 million a year deficit. Replacing these obsolete dams with newer (and more efficient) power sources elsewhere would actually save PacifiCorp’s customers (and Kobseff’s constituents) money.
In addition, California has yet to issue a clean water permit for the project. California could simply say no to a permit if, as is likely, the water quality impacts of the dams (increased water temperatures, toxic algae blooms) cannot be mitigated without dam removal. Alternatively, California could issue a permit with additional mitigation measures. This would create tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs to PacifiCorp and its customers — again including Kobseff’s constituents.
Aside from the energy bill savings that dam removal offers, the complete Klamath settlement package goes beyond removing dams and includes a bold plan to restore Klamath River fisheries and provide assistance and economic stability for local irrigators. The Klamath Project irrigators are major economic contributors for Siskiyou, Klamath and Modoc counties. The dam removal agreement, along with the Klamath Restoration Agreement (KBRA), provides security for water deliveries, assistance in achieving affordable power rates to pump water efficiently and reconciles one of the most bitter water conflicts in America.
Bad business not patriotic
To suggest, as Kobseff does, that it would be a “patriotic endeavor” for PacifiCorp to keep these dams — even though they would lose money and ultimately cost its customers at least twice what they are worth — is ridiculous. Since when is a bad business plan patriotic?
County leaders repeatedly assert that the dams are vital to the region’s energy supply and offer a “green and renewable” source of energy. However, due to the environmental impacts of the dams, only 20 percent of the energy produced by the Klamath complex qualifies as “green” under California and Oregon’s renewable portfolio standards. At any rate, the modest 88 megawatts of power the dams actually produce could be replaced with fewer than 25 modern wind turbines, which generate up to six megawatts each. PacifiCorp is already investing in 1,200 megawatts of renewable power — the 88 megawatts needed to totally replace the power from the Klamath dams is trivial by comparison.
All together, dam removal, KBRA restoration projects and power assistance to put Upper Basin irrigators on a level playing field would result in nearly a billion dollars of investment in and around Siskiyou County. It would also greatly benefit in-river salmon fisheries that will bring tens of millions of additional dollars to Siskiyou County businesses.
You would think that a supervisor for a county with a nearly 20 percent unemployment rate would be eager to bring this kind of economic stimulus package home.
The real obstacle to dam removal is not economics or sound science, but ideology. For many it is difficult to understand how dam removal can be the right decision. The fact is that not all dams are created equal, and these dams in particular have simply outlived their usefulness. As a nation we can no longer rely on 19th century technology to solve 21st century power needs.
We urge Siskiyou County leaders to embrace this change and take advantage of it. Dam removal and river restoration will lead to economic investment, jobs, and a resolution to the water wars that have pitted neighbor against neighbor for years. It’s time that county leaders set ideology aside and work with local tribes, farmers, fishermen, and PacifiCorp on a long-term solution to the benefit of us all.
The Herald and News printed a commentary by Siskiyou County Supervisor Michael Kobseff Aug. 6.
Page Updated: Monday August 31, 2009 03:57 AM Pacific
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