5 Feb 2009, 10:55am
Homo sapiens Salmon and other fish
by admin

Is dam removal really the best option?

By Rex Cozzalio, Opinion, Siskiyou Daily News, February 3, 2009 [here]

Parts one and two:

Klamath River - In order to justify mandated job security, asset reallocation and condemnation without compensation, government agencies, environmental groups, and several self-seeking tribal individuals have altered or ignored the history, current reality, and the accumulated knowledge of the vested majority with a love, past connection, and consequence of decision regarding the Klamath watershed. They have also ignored primary fisheries influences and instead focus on any conditions that advance their cause, creating “theories” based upon those self-serving “conditions.”

With generations in the same location immediately below where Iron Gate now sits and above any other confluences, we are in perhaps the best position to gauge the effects of the dams on the Klamath environment. Personally swimming in the Klamath before and after Iron Gate, a minimum of 50 times per year for 50 years, as my grandfather and area predecessors before us, I can say without question that the water quality, quantity, riparian stability, temperatures and condition, including algae, are far better because of the dams than before; support of an improved environment was a primary reason they were originally put in place. The salmon were never known to migrate in significant numbers above Spencer Creek, which helped determine the Copco Lake location. In fact, even under the improved water conditions, the majority are still exhausted and dying by the time the salmon reach our property, with the prior hatchery director’s estimate of the best remaining energy reserves taking them no higher than the Copco area. If the Klamath tribal leaders did not know this, why would they demand fishing rights to our area below the proposed dam removal as part of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement?

Considering this and other extensive historical information supported by non-benefiting, knowledgeable, concerned local multigenerational river residents (which to complete an agenda current rhetoric blatantly ignores), what is the likely result of historically unjustified mass asset destruction with no preliminary proof or guarantee of success, and what is the future cost and inevitable actions taken after that massive asset destruction and reallocation has failed?

Since 2003, federal taxpayers alone have paid over half a billion dollars for Klamath “restoration” Agreement in Principle, pg. 1 based upon those theories with no identifiable objective benefit, contradicting the “science” utilized and yet those failures have also been ignored or transmuted into justification for even greater control.

The current attacks on our region are occurring on many fronts, but one of the most financially lucrative and destructive opportunities being exploited by selected interests utilizes the mandated “dam relicensing” of Pacific Power overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Pacific Power is not the culprit; it has been a responsible manager. The completed FERC report, by listing possible options for Pacific Power license renewal, is 1,138 pages of perhaps the most egregious wish list of extortion ever compiled. Self-seeking agencies, individual tribal interests and environmental groups contrived to create an unjustified cost for license renewal so great that either Pacific Power would be forced to relinquish control to those groups, or concede to unprecedented payoffs. Either way, the ratepayer and taxpayer would pay the price. Concurrently, those same entities contributing to that wish list formed an “unofficial committee,” enticing a minority of vested interests willing to compromise principles for guarantee of concession, to participate under their only mandated requirement of dams removal. The majority not endorsing dam removal were excluded from the process and would suffer the greatest consequence of the resulting Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) purported to the public as a “unified agreement.”

At that point the California and Oregon governors solicited the office of the president, gaining political environmental currency by compelling an “outside agreement” between Pacific Power, the governors, and the secretary of the Dept. of Interior, called the Federal Klamath Working Group. In order to bypass congressional approval of unjustified funds for the FERC relicensing process, the “negotiation” required Pacific Power’s agreement in principle for removal of the dams and a way to indirectly pay for costs without requiring direct congressional allocation. Again, in mandatorily exclusionary secret meetings, it was the unrepresented ratepayers and vested interests fighting the fabricated fallacies that were chosen to suffer the cost.

Further compelling Pacific Power’s cooperation, along with the concessions (including relief from liability), the “option to withdraw” back to the FERC process was in all reality eliminated by the California Dept. of Water Quality and Dept. of Fish and Game.

Along with the subsequent unsubstantiated determination that the only two FERC relicensing options allowing profit were “illegal” since they were certain they could not meet their newly redefined “current water quality standards,” they also reserved the authority and implied threat to still require dam removal without liability protection from further lawsuits if removal does not occur through the “negotiation.” Now all the various entities, having mandated Pacific Power’s operational loss, have stepped back with arrogant pride stating they “are not responsible for an economic decision made by Pacific Power.”

Born from this Federal Klamath Working Group is the Agreement in Principle (AIP), a continuation of constitutional contempt deluding the public by obscenely understating estimated costs and impacts ($450 million compared to FERC removal estimates ranging in excess of $4 billion), while allowing themselves the open-ended latitude to “meet and confer” regarding any additional costs upon the same discriminatorily imposed peoples already targeted. Meanwhile, the before-mentioned, self-ordained KBRA produced by the group excluding everyone who did not agree to dam removal, is “included in entirety” within the AIP, leaving that group as the only one receiving mandated inclusion and appeasement before the Federal, State, and Pacific Power signers.

The Final Agreement shall include specific provisions to assure… will be coordinated with applicable KBRA provisions which are linked to the Final Agreement or Facilities removal” (AIP IX.J).

Although this Agreement is the full and complete Agreement of the Parties at this time, the Parties agree that the KBRA and Final Agreement will be indivisible parts of a unified approach to resolving Klamath Basin issues in the broad public interest. The Parties will ensure that the Final Agreement and legislation proposed or supported by the Parties are consistent with this principle” (AIP IV).

With an unpublicized federal estimate of $1 billion to be attributed to KBRA implementation (Secretary of Interior Kempthorne letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger); with an interim undisclosed amount of federal taxpayer money to be directed to “third party” designees for “research and continued restoration” to “determine feasibility” of dam removal; with the only “third party” included for consideration under the agreement being the group and KBRA having excluded all who disagreed with dam removal; and with the future of that group’s individual funding and guarantees directly tied to dam removal, who do you think will be the “third parties” funneled that interim money to “direct research” and what “conclusion” do you think they will recommend?

“This Administration acknowledges that the KBRA parties consider facilities removal necessary for the overall success of the Basin conservation effort and recognizes the Final Agreement contemplated by this process cannot proceed absent the KBRA.” (Secretary of Interior Kempthorne letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger).

During all of this sidebar, participating agencies, environmental groups, and certain tribal interests are continuing their individual pursuit of position, security, and financial benefit. A few pursuits include the Calif. Dept. of Water Quality (Total Maximum Daily Load) and Dept. of Fish and Game (Incidental Take Permit) regulatory fabrication and enforcement, NMFS, Fish and Wildlife, and ongoing countless groups and tribes with “environmental” lawsuits seeking settlement.

Barring extreme change of direction, considering current positions and the AIP, the future is clear:

* Pacific Power hydropower ratepayers (hereinafter called ratepayers) and taxpayers will cover the minimized estimate of dams removal.

* Taxpayers will pay for interim ‘restoration and research’ funds distributed to selected third parties’ to determine removal.

* Ratepayers, and/or taxpayers under a federal “jobs creation” program will pay the extended actual costs of dams removal.

* Ratepayers will pay the additional increased costs for out-sourced power.

* Ratepayers will pay all mandated interim “restoration” and operational costs of operation.

* Ratepayers will pay for all hatchery facilities’ replacement and operational costs when necessary. Cold water is lost to dam removal, contradicting both of the primary excuses justifying dam removal, and will pay that cost for eight years after dams removal.

* Ratepayers will pay for contractually subsidized project area’s lower agricultural power rates.

* Ratepayers will pay for all other “incurred” costs as determined necessary by the same AIP members.

* Everyone will pay for the benefits of 70,000 homes of renewable power lost to the public.

* Taxpayers and vested land/home owners will eventually pay the $1 billion for KBRA implementation.

In exchange, to ensure county compliance, a few high profile issues may be conceded, such as Yreka water from Fall Creek, access road maintenance, and property tax/public ground manipulation. However, vested land/homeowners will suffer costs of property devaluation, present and future taking of earned rights and assets, Klamath environmental destruction, quality and standard of life reduction, regulatory oppression, and for many, total loss.

Dams removal will “be determined,” and even if not, the Draconian costs, reallocations, regulatory hierarchy, and path of environmental and social devastation will be well established.

Supporting the ‘natural’ salmon by requiring “warm water dam and hatchery removals” will fail, proven by pre-dam history, even considering removing the minuscule impact of the dams compared to the far greater warmer water bodies directly above and the “genetically enhanced” salmon “from this and other watersheds” being selected at this time for a “head start” planting by the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Upon that failure, media will be engaged to further alter history and reality, call for even greater funding and additional fees from those still surviving, praise their own actions, and with no other options then available, shut down the entire watershed to all “minor” interests. (Review the region’s timberland history.)

Through this travail, virtually all family-owned farms, ranches and similar individual holdings in Klamath and Siskiyou counties will succumb to planning uncertainties, arbitrary regulatory requirements and costs backed with “threat of liability” blackmail, and eventual guaranteed hierarchy-defined, drought-condition water shutoff. As a consequence, the counties will be left to the regulators and newly allocated, the expanded poor, the independently wealthy, and a few corporate agricultural and timber entities that can assimilate or pass on subjective regulatory costs, and add to their prime ground at devalued prices while operating with reduced competition.

Through loss of retention capacity, the Klamath riparian areas will once again see frequent environmental devastation, with a return to pre-dam trickles in late summers and frequent eroding massive floods in winter.

By not addressing actual cause and effects, the rhetoric and practices of the new hierarchy will expand and alter publicity to extol its “ongoing growth and adaptation to improve the environment,” since the salmon runs will not benefit (see responses to sucker fish failure and current contradicting statements and practice). They know the results now and don’t care, for it appears that money, security and assets are the priority.

It is those remaining relatives of the river, vested brothers and sisters tied by common history, knowledge and love of the Klamath watershed, who have sacrificed more than any to maintain and enhance the environment they cherish. Those brothers of all backgrounds watch broken as the environmental benefit of they and their forefathers is destroyed for personal gain under the illusion and guise of good cause.

Craig Tucker, the Karuk leaders’ paid promoter for dam removal, advised Siskiyou supervisors to “hop on the financial gravy train precipitated by removal of the four hydroelectric dams, the largest national public works project in decades.” (Actually, by FERC estimates, potentially the largest and costliest removal in the world.) “Because if these people are not behind it now, then they shouldn’t get the benefits when the dams start coming down.” (Pioneer Press – 12/12/08). So much for the environment.

It is the very majority of unrepresented vested interests condemned to carry the total consequence of decisions excluding their knowledge, history and beneficial contribution who will be destroyed and added to the huge and growing policies loss list, including over 1,200 family homes, heritage and futures lost to the failed sucker fish “best science” alone.

Unbiased research and recommendation allowing those vested interests to use their greater experience and knowledge in incorporating current theory into personal decision is the only effective and constitutionally legitimate method for enhancing the environment affecting quality of life and future.

It does not seem rational to destroy assets; trash the constitution to take vested rights, value, and property by ostensible condemnation without compensation and vote; selectively target an unrepresented group, imposing financial and regulatory oppression without consequence of decision; irreparably devastate the environment; distort and fabricate “history” and “science” while concurrently ignoring the failures of prevailing theory still used to justify “takings” and position; and deceive and bill the American public, all for personal gain while acting as a test case for expanded imposition throughout the nation.

If your environment, earned assets, society and the constitution are to be saved, it seems the only options left may be well funded legal challenge toward constitutionality, and/or those watershed brothers and sisters making their voices heard as one. Without that direction, it appears likely as things now stand, our futures are lost.

P.S. – Since writing the prior comments, the Siskiyou supervisors have agreed to “sit at the table” of the AIP negotiations, as was anticipated. While the Federal Klamath Working Group, under the AIP, has no obligation to heed any other except the KRBA interests, it has been inferred that those not sitting at the table may receive little or no consideration whatsoever. In exchange for that “possible” consideration, however, the supervisors had to consent to complete disconnect from their constituency, allowing no communication, guarantee, or simultaneous alternative actions. While the supervisors’ motives may be honorable in conceding to coercion in an attempt to salvage shards from future environmental and social ruin, a tragedy appears cast.

The Parties agree that all drafts of the Agreement in Principle shall be held strictly confidential among the Parties to the extent allowed by applicable law, unless unanimously agreed otherwise by the Parties. (AIP B.v).

The Parties agree that there are no binding obligations or commitments contained in this Agreement other than are expressly stated in this Agreement. There shall be no remedy for any potential or alleged breach of non-binding provisions of this Agreement, and none of the Parties shall be subject to specific performance, damages, or any other remedy or type of relief for failure to perform the non-binding provisions. (AIP B.iiv).

Until a Final Agreement is executed, the Parties agree to refrain from any actions that do not support or further cooperative discussions toward the commitments being contemplated by this Agreement. (AIP B.ix).

The Parties agree to cooperate and coordinate in the development of individual or joint press releases or public statements with respect to the Agreement in Principle and the Final Agreement. Subsequent statements shall be consistent with this provision. (AIP B.xi).

Note: Special thanks to Katherine Lehman for pointing it out and to Rex Cozzalio for providing this essay.

5 Feb 2009, 11:07am
by Mike

Testimony of Gail Hildreth Whitsett presented before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources Tuesday 2/03/09

Members of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources:

As a multiple degreed geologist, I would like to comment on the last available Federal Energy Regulatory Commission environmental impact statement on the removal of the Klamath dams.

This report states that complete studies have not been undertaken to understand the total amount of sediment accumulated behind the four Klamath mainstem dams to be removed, nor the riverine and fluvial effects generated by the release of this sediment. Until those studies are completed and we understand the nature of the sediment and its totality, it is very unwise to pass legislation regarding ratepayer monetary assumptions resulting from dam removal.

The FERC report states that removal of the sediment, should that be the course chosen, could range up to $4.5 BILLION. That assumption is that there are no heavy metals or toxics in the sediment that would require a Superfund type cleanup of the sediment. If that is the case, an order of magnitude greater cost will be incurred. The few sediment cores taken to date are only a few centimeters deep, while the actual accumulated sediment ranges from about 1 and a half to four million metric tons of fine sediment.

So no real knowledge of the toxicity or heavy metal analyses are available for all four dams. 540,000 ratepayers, most of whom are in Oregon, divided by the FERC high estimate of sediment removal would be a cost of about $8000 per ratepayer.

Citizens who live on the river year round are very concerned about the flooding of the mainstem Klamath during the months of December through April. Many who have lived there prior to the building of Irongate state that extensive flooding and erosion of the river regularly occurred. The FERC report also states that no definitive studies have yet been undertaken to determine probablility of flooding, whether they be 50, 100, 500 or thousand year flood events. When major runoff events happen in the Klamath Basin, above the mainstem of the river, the dams now provide a “ponding” effect which decreases the water velocity and decreases overall turbidity throughout the system. If the dams are removed, the massive erosional effect of these runoff events will destroy most of the gravel beds which provide the salmon breeding grounds of the river. Sediment will be redistributed irregularly throughout the lower areas of the fluvial system and many of the salmonids known breeding locations will be eradicated.

The FERC report states that $35 million additional per year will be required from 540,000 Pacificorp ratepayers as the cost of replacement electricity. That will increase the average ratepayer’s monthly electric bill by 10% for the next ten years, at today’s rates. If “green” electricity is required as a replacement that will increase the monthly electricity charges by an order of three or four times their present rates. The replacement cost is presently determined based on coal fired replacement. Pacificorp presently uses power generated from its Wyoming coal fired plants. To exchange clean hydropower for coal fired electricity is draconian at best.

I urge SB 76 not be released from committee until a better understanding of the actual cost to ratepayers and the geology and geomorphology of the system without the dams is accurately understood.

Respectfully submitted by:

Gail Hildreth Whitsett

BS in Geology, Honors College Oregon State University
MS Geology, Oregon State University
Princeton University, Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Facility



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