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A supervisor's view of the Klamath dams

August 09, 2009 By Michael N. Kobseff, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 3

Negotiations on the Klamath Basin dams are escalating to a mindless conclusion.

Federal and state regulatory agencies are in a frenzy to sound the death knell for what they perceive to be an environmentally sound decision to restore the Klamath Basin. Their perception is unfounded and senseless.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has studied two dam removal options. FERC's conclusion found dam removal not to be a viable option. Fish passage was the best alternative. The simple truth is that the dams were in place many years before the recent decline in fish populations. The simple fact is that it is something other than the dams that is the problem. Their removal will not restore the fish.

The only requirement for FERC to relicense PacifiCorp is a California Department of Water Resources 401 certification permit. Irongate, Copco I, II and J.C. Boyle hydroelectric facilities provide renewable, emission-free power for 70,000 homes.

PacifiCorp pays $1.6 million a year to Siskiyou County in property and energy tax revenue. Sixty percent of the Klamath Basin is in Siskiyou County. If federal, California and Oregon state governments are going to apply regulatory authority to force the removal of these hydroelectric facilities, PacifiCorp must receive just compensation.

The Board of Supervisors does not support dam removal, has not signed the 11th, 12th or whatever the current draft of the agreement is, but all Siskiyou County impacts must be addressed as well. PacifiCorp should stand tall and demand 401 certification. It is their dollars at risk. PacifiCorp should expose the extortion methodology of regulatory agencies to the light of day. The loaded gun to their head is going to cost ratepayers, taxpayers and the health of the Klamath Basin itself by removing the cleanest form of independent renewable energy known. At a time when our country seeks to produce affordable, clean, renewable energy and become energy independent, PacifiCorp's investment in the four Klamath Basin dams is a patriotic endeavor.

The federal, California and Oregon governments should be insisting on maintaining this thriving infrastructure as a national security interest to keep America independent from the vulnerability of foreign energy imports. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors maintains there are five solutions to the Klamath Basin:

1. Long Lake Project in Klamath County will replace irrigation from the Klamath River.
2. Hart Bypass from Bogus Creek, Clear Creek to Deer Creek will allow fish passage above Copco.
3. ARED wild fish propagation will re-establish fish populations using proven new technology.
4. Eradicate C. Shasta disease, which is taking 90 percent of fry migration.
5. A study of ocean conditions must be made to determine why Siskiyou County tributaries can have successful fry migration but unsuccessful spawner return.

We can have fish, agriculture and dams.

Do we have the fortitude to achieve it? Each day while the mindless dam removal agenda remains, Siskiyou County residents must contact those in authority over regulatory agencies: Congressmen Wally Herger and Mike Thompson of California, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and President Barack Obama with the narrative: "No dam removal, protect the Klamath Basin, relicense PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River."

We can hijack the momentum and propaganda of dam removal for a restoration process that will implement solutions to our Klamath Basin.

Michael N. Kobseff is Siskiyou County supervisor, District 3.

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