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Four Klamath Dams Slated for Removal
States and electric utilities will assume environmental and economic liability

In an agreement between PacificCorp, the states of Oregon and California, the Yurok and Karuk tribes from the southern Oregon/northern California region and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the parties have agreed to "removal of the JC Boyle, Copco 1, Copco 2, and Iron Gate dams in order to achieve a free-flowing Klamath River with volitional fish passage." Drawdown and removal is set to begin in the first quarter of 2023, according to the agreement.

Among other things, the agreement requires PacificCorp to "resolve at PacifiCorp’s sole cost and expense all PreExisting Environmental Site Conditions." PacifiCorp’s agreement will transfer a portion of its liability for dam removal -- potentially billions of dollars -- onto every taxpayer and business in the state of Oregon.

In July 2020, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reviewed the application for removal of dams on the Klamath River. Approval was given only if PacifCorp was part of the liability for any damage caused by the removal of four dams along the Klamath River. The memorandum intends to transfer a portion of that liability directly onto the backs of Oregonians.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released a statement, saying:

“It is critically important as complex water issues in the Klamath basin continue to impact tribal members, water users and stakeholders, that we don’t forget all Oregonians who are depending on us to maintain a commitment to good government.

Any executive branch agreement must include protections for tax dollars currently dedicated to funding our safety net.

During this period of economic uncertainty Oregonians cannot afford to allow the governor to simply write a blank check.

This agreement has no protections against cost overruns and is being entered into within an uncertain litigious and regulatory environment, which will impact state budgets for years to come.

As discussions of the removal of additional dams continue within the Brown administration, the importance of hydropower to Oregon’s economic strength and growth cannot be overstated. Hydropower remains a reliable, clean, emission-free energy source which we must not abandon.”

State Senator Dennis Linthicum, State Representative E. Werner Reschke and Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd issued a statement saying, "Governor Brown has no constitutional authority to make this decision. By fiat she has created this policy, entering into this agreement, without legislative process or approval from the people of Oregon."

“This is unethical business by PacificCorp. We accept them as a business partner in our community, but transferring the liability, potentially billions of dollars onto every taxpayer and business in the state of Oregon, is wrong,” said Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd (R-Klamath Falls).

“This bold move by the Governor, without any legislative consideration continues her unconstitutional mandates causing harm to Oregonians while lining the pockets of big corporations,” said Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Malin). “While the Governor polishes her resume for the Biden administration, the prospects for her career increase but the opportunities for Oregonians decrease,” said Rep. Reschke.

State Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Beatty) replied, “This is another saga in the latest batch of Governor Kate Brown’s unconstitutional power grabs. Brown continually brokers high-stakes, dark-of-night deals without public or legislative input. Oregon’s taxpayers will be on the hook for millions if this imprudent cronyism is allowed to stand.”

The agreement does recognize that no legislature nor any executive action can bind the hands of future legislative or executive action. "State law, future legislative actions, and budget limitations may constrain the States in carrying out these actions and nothing in this Implementing Agreement is intended or shall be construed to require the obligation, appropriation, or expenditure of any funds by the States except as otherwise permitted by applicable law.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-17 15:35:47Last Update: 2020-11-17 16:23:30

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