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Shift in politics affects irrigators

by TOM MALLAMS for the Capital Press 2/3/11

The political climate in Washington, D.C., is looking much brighter with the improved positive results of the November elections. The balance of power in Congress now has a noticeable conservative leadership in the natural resources arena. This has the promise of benefiting the agricultural community.

Rep. Doc Hastings from central Washington will chair the full Committee on Natural Resources. Rep. Tom McClintock from Northern California has been selected to chair the sub-committee on water and power.

Both congressmen have been vocal opponents of the liberal, ill-conceived agendas within the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and Klamath Dam Removal Agreement. These documents, if implemented, will affect Oregon's water right laws.

Oregon Rep. Greg Walden and California Rep. Wally Herger should be motivated to follow the conservative leadership of Hastings and McClintock, especially concerning the natural resource issues of the KBRA and Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement. A united conservative block of Northwest congressmen would certainly be a powerful, influential force in Washington, D.C., not only in defeating the KBRA and KHSA, but influencing other issues relevant to the survival of irrigated agriculture in our basin.

Other issues would include completing the Oregon state adjudication process, actually implementing meaningful deep water storage, not just studying it and allowing others to deem it unfeasible. The liberal agendas attempting to de-water agriculture ground throughout our entire nation has to be stopped.

Do the citizens of the Klamath River Basin desire a balanced solution to the many water issues? Absolutely! Are they willing to sacrifice four existing hydroelectric-producing dams on the Klamath River, give control of the water in the Klamath Basin to the federal government and giving 92,000 acres of forest land to a sovereign nation within our nation? Absolutely not! The recent elections within the Klamath River Basin prove this beyond any doubt.

The financial bonanza included in the KBRA and KHSA for billionaire Warren Buffett and his PacifiCorp, are already being paid for by the ratepayers and, ultimately, the taxpayers as well. The list of rate increases being sought after by PacifiCorp seems like a Christmas shopping spree.

The only difference is that this list will go on forever. This never-ending list of power rate increases sought by Buffett and his PacifiCorp is being granted one after another by the public utility commission, which serves our governor at his "discretion." These rate increases are sought to pay for, among other items, destroying some dams, while relicensing others.

This sounds much like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempted massive water bond, which included funding for destroying existing Klamath River dams and building other dams in other parts of the state.

Will the national political climate now take on the semblance of common sense, accountability and the will of the people? I have high hopes and expectations for the more balanced local, state and federal powers that are now taking office.

I pray we are not heading for disappointment once again by those who will not take a stand against out-of-control big government and liberal agendas.

Tom Mallams of Beatty, Ore., is president of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users Association.


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