home > media > 8/30/09
Klamath Riverkeeper Press Release | For Immediate Release
Contact: Erica Terence, Klamath Riverkeeper, office: (530) 627-3311, cell: (530)340-5415, erica at klamathriver.org
September 30, 2009
FINAL DAM REMOVAL AGREEMENT MAY BE OUT BUT DAMS ARE STILL IN
Grassroots group to continue watch-dogging dam removal process until Klamath flows free
Orleans, CA--After years of working toward Klamath dam removal, Klamath Riverkeeper and other grassroots river advocates are reacting to the final dam removal agreement package released today with mixed emotions and a strategy to match.
“We support local stakeholders’ efforts to craft an agreement that works for everyone but it remains to be seen whether this agreement will hold water,” added Terence. She noted that while many of Klamath Riverkeeper’s concerns about the viability and environmental impacts of the draft dam removal agreement have been largely addressed in the final version, some have not.
In August, Klamath Riverkeeper released a 9-point list of concerns about the 2008 draft deal the Klamath-based non-profit wanted to see addressed before lending its support to the final dam removal agreement.
"Language in the final Hydropower Agreement has improved on many points of concern to us, but we're also analyzing some new language in the agreement,” said Terence. Klamath Riverkeeper is particularly concerned about a new clause that would give California, Oregon, the federal government and PacifiCorp the power to amend the agreement without the consent of other parties under some circumstances.
Terence emphasized that “it's crucial that tribes and commercial fishermen are included in decision-making related to this settlement."
Klamath Riverkeeper also remains concerned with the dam agreement’s compliance with the Clean Water Act and is scrutinizing the agreement to ensure that it upholds water quality requirements laid out in the Klamath TMDL, a Clean Water Act pollution clean-up plan currently being finalized on the mainstem Klamath. Another question left by the agreement is who will pay to clean up poor water quality around Keno Dam, Terence said.
"If our concerns are answered, the Klamath settlement could give us a better shot at getting four dams out by 2020 than any other venue. However, there are other ways to get the dams out including legal and legislative tools, and Klamath Riverkeeper will pursue them aggressively if parties to this settlement don't follow through with their commitments or the process becomes bogged down dealing with loopholes and delays,” said Terence.
She noted that Klamath Riverkeeper will also be working to ensure those measures are implemented and to improve water quality conditions below the dams during the interim period before dam removal is to occur in 2020.
Klamath Riverkeeper has not been a party to the dam removal settlement agreement, electing instead to work towards dam removal by aiming strategic lawsuits and direct action against PacifiCorp and regulatory agencies. Klamath Riverkeeper’s legal work has resulted in the US EPA listing the Klamath River and PacifiCorp’s reservoirs for toxic algae, a listing which made PacifiCorp’s bid for the 401 clean water permit necessary to relicense the dams less realistic and steered the corporation toward a negotiated settlement.
The long-awaited set of final agreements combines a previously negotiated Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement with a finalized Hydropower Agreement between PacifiCorp, California, Oregon, Klamath Basin tribes, and the federal government.
More information on the Klamath dams can be found on Klamath Riverkeeper's website, including a timeline of Klamath dam removal-related events and Klamath dam removal factsheetst .
Positive changes in the latest Hydro Agreement:
- Immunity for PacifiCorp has been limited to dam removal, and no longer covers environmental damage such as toxic algae caused by past operations of the dams.
- Many of the backdoors out of the earlier agreement in principle have been closed off, so that dams are more likely to come out in 2020.
- The agreement leaves the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections intact and fully enforceable.
- The agreement provides for other renewable energy sources to replace the small amount of hydroelectricity produced by the Klamath dams.
- The agreement makes the federal government the most likely dam removal agent and directs the feds to come up with a detailed dam removal plan by 2012 based on pre-existing studies and other appropriate data, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission record and Energy Policy Act administrative law proceedings.
- The agreement acknowledges issues on the Trinity River in an effort to better protect the interests of the Hoopa Tribe.
- The agreement states that alternate California funding mechanisms will be explored, and that no party will be obligated to support an entire California bond package, or any projects other than Klamath dam removal.
Questions remaining about the final dam removal agreement package:
- Whether and how the Clean Water Act's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) water quality protections being established right now will be met under settlement.
- If interim water quality measures are voluntary, as the final Hydro Agreement says that they are, how can they be enforced? Those of us who live downstream are still paying the price for non-compliance.
- Who will pay to clean up the polluted reach of river below Keno dam? The agreement doesn't assign financial responsibility for this task to anyone, while several parties expressly disown the cleanup. Restoring the Keno reach is a key step in bringing the river back to health.
- Oregon and California can still back out of the agreement.
- The feds, states and PacifiCorp are empowered to amend the agreement without other parties in some circumstances. Tribes and commercial fishermen should have votes in all decision-making.
- Drought-planning to ensure that fish and wildlife have enough water in extremely dry years is still incomplete.
More information on the Klamath dams, including a timeline of Klamath dam removal-related events and Klamath dam removal factsheetst .