Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett, District 28, Newsletter 6/18/12
Last week, the United States House of Representatives passed
legislation that would prohibit federal agencies from
encouraging people to complete government surveys by sending
cash in the mail. The legislation was adopted in response to a
nationwide Department of Interior sponsored survey designed to
measure public opinion on the destruction of the Klamath River
The Department of Interior wanted to create a full accounting of
the value of restoring the Klamath River to its free flowing
state. They determined a comprehensive effort must include the
alleged benefits to society that are associated with non-use of
the river. Non-use values include those perceived to benefit the
public even though they may have never visited the Klamath
Basin, never consumed Klamath River fish or otherwise ever used
the resources of the Klamath River Basin.
The Department paid more than $850,000 to employ a national
private agency to develop and implement the “Klamath Non-use
Valuation Survey”. That Survey was mailed to more than 10,000
households nationwide. Many of the mailings included a two
dollar bill as an incentive to complete the survey. A letter to
those who failed to respond promised an additional $20 would be
mailed if the survey was completed and returned by a specific
Congressman Scott Tipton, the legislation’s sponsor explained:
“Enticing survey responses with cash incentives to prove a
societal need for a project is wrong on so many levels. First
and foremost, it’s a blatant waste and abuse of taxpayers’
dollars. Collecting data this way is disingenuous, and a
downright sneaky move by this administration’s cadre
I strongly agree with the Congressman’s observations. What is
more, I believe that that this Survey represents yet another
attempt by the Department of Interior to create and foster the
perception that the public supports the destruction of the
Klamath River dams.
The Final Report on the Klamath Non-use Valuation Survey was
released to the media at about the same time that the
Department’s draft Environmental Impact Statement on dam removal
was published. The release of both documents appeared to be
timed to set the stage for Secretary of Interior Salazar’s
scheduled announcement of his decision on dam removal. It was
widely anticipated that the Secretary’s decision would be to
destroy the dams.
According to Dr. Paul Houser, the summary of the Environmental
Impact Statement was intentionally biased to support the
destruction of the dams. He alleges the document emphasizes the
alleged positive aspects of taking out the dams while simply
ignoring the many potential negative aspects of dam removal.
Houser also alleges that the document was written by Bureau of
Reclamation attorneys and was designed to support the
Secretary’s predetermined conclusion that removal of the Klamath
River dams is the best alternative.
Dr. Houser was the Bureau of Reclamation’s top scientist. He was
hired to insure the validity and the integrity of the science
employed by the Bureau. His employment was terminated by the
Bureau after he made his concerns public. Dr. Houser claims that
he was fired for doing the job he was hired to perform.
I believe that the Klamath Non-use Valuation Survey was also
intentionally biased to persuade respondents to support the
destruction of the dams.
The questionnaire provided the respondent with a series of
choices between an action plan and a no-action alternative.
The action plan included the removal of the four Klamath River
hydroelectric dams, river restoration and water reallocation.
The wording of the questions appear to emphasize the alleged
benefits of removing the dams while completely ignoring
significant and costly disadvantages. For instance, the dollar
value of the more than 550 gigawatts (billion watts) of
hydroelectric generation that will be lost by the destruction of
the dams was not quantified. The cost of replacing that lost
generation capacity with more expensive alternative renewables
was not calculated.
The Survey did not describe the approximately 20 million cubic
yards of sediment sequestered behind the dams. It did not
discuss the near certain ecological disaster that the release of
that toxic sediment will cause downstream on the Klamath River
or the significant problems that have resulted from previous
smaller dam removal projects such as the Condit Dam or the dams
on the Rogue River.
Further, the wording of the Survey questions appeared to assure
the respondents that endangered species will continue to
decline, and may even become extinct in the event that the
no-action plan is adopted. It appeared to advise respondents
that the no-action plan would include no fish restoration
projects and failed to describe either the current hatchery
programs or alternative fish passage options.
Both PacifiCorp and the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors
wrote letters to the Department of Interior expressing their
significant concerns regarding the Survey methodology and the
conclusions of the Final Report. The letters were comprehensive,
detailed and precise. They advised the Department of many
specific Survey inaccuracies and omissions.
Both parties filed Requests for Corrections based on those
inaccuracies and omissions that they claimed would skew the
opinions received from Survey respondents. PacifiCorp actually
wrote a second letter reiterating their objections and concerns.
Unfortunately, the Department of Interior distributed the Final
Report without making the requested corrections and appeared to
encourage its use to represent public support for the
destruction of the Klamath River dams.
The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors was blunt in their
criticism. They stated in their letter that the fact the Survey
was distributed and utilized, in spite of the Requests for
Correction, emphasizes that the Survey was designed to secure
opinions contrary to the opinions of citizens of Siskiyou
The visceral opposition of Klamath Basin voters to the
destruction of our nation’s hydroelectric infrastructure appears
to have been made clear during recent elections. I am convinced
that Department of Interior’s ongoing attempts to manipulate
public opinion, regardless of how overt or how costly those
attempts may be, will not change that voter sentiment.
Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon, no one
friend on Facebook | forward to a friend You can contact us at:
23131 North Poe Valley Road Klamath Falls, OR 97603
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted
material herein is distributed without profit or payment to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this
information for non-profit research and educational purposes
only. For more information go to: