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Stakeholders, not Cheney, Will Determine Klamathís Fate

7/6/07

NOTE from KBC: Regarding Tucker's comment on the negotiations with Klamath Water Users, tribes, and fishermen regarding dam removal and power rates. Yes, many fish died in 2002 (go HERE). And yes "PacifiCorp slammed irrigators with sharp rate increase ...All of a sudden, farmers, fishermen, Tribes, and conservation groups began discussing how we could work together to have all our needs addressed." What he did not say is that the Yurok and Hoopa Tribes and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen (PCFFA) and enviro groups petitioned against the Klamath Irrigators continuing to get an affordable power rate (the rate was in exchange for free, regulated water to make power compliments of Klamath Project.) The group's reason: to reduce irrigation, which would reduce Klamath farmers. So as soon as this group won and our rate increase will be approximately 2400% increase, yes THEN the same group of tribes and PCFFA said ok, lets make a deal...we'll try to get you a power rate if you agree to ripping out Klamath River dams which provide power to 70,000 ratepayers. So, the negotiations are thriving while the communities are not informed of the details.
To the attention of Mr. Craig Tucker, fellow (anti-dam)campaigners and Klamath Water Users, from Sean McKinney, Australia,  7/4/07.

S. Craig Tucker, Ph.D.
Klamath Coordinator
Karuk Tribe

Much attention was focused last week on a Washington Post report that Vice President Cheney manipulated flows on the Klamath River in the lead up to the 2002 fish kill. However the story on the Klamath today is not what politicians did or didnít do four years ago, but what Klamath Basin residents and coastal fishermen are doing to solve the Klamath Crisis today.

The farm shut off of 2001 and fish the kill of 2002 were back to back disasters for Klamath Basin residents. Either alone was enough intensify the already vitriolic fight over the basinsí water resources. Together they could permanently divide neighbors along political, ideological, and cultural lines. Indeed, some would say that this permanent divide was imminent when along came a chance for a solution in the form of a dam relicensing.

When PacifiCorpís 50 year license to operate their 6 Klamath dams expired, stakeholders, local, state, and federal agencies assembled to participate in the processing of a new license application. Simultaneously, PacifiCorp slammed irrigators with sharp rate increase which for some families will result in a 1200% increase in power bills. All of a sudden, farmers, fishermen, Tribes, and conservation groups began discussing how we could work together to have all our needs addressed. Since our need is being rather big - the removal of four of the dams and largest river restoration project in Americaís history - we are willing to work with farmers to address their needs at the same time.

Today, four Indian Tribes, nine environmental groups, farm groups, and a host of local, state and federal agencies are working hard on a settlement to prevent disasters like we saw happen in 2001 and 2002 from ever happening again. So far, the Bush/Cheney administration is doing its part to support us. In January, the administrationís wildlife agencies mandated the strongest fishway prescriptions within their legal authority. The result is a dam project that is so expensive to relicense that the removal of four large dams makes economic sense. The administrationís NOAA fisheries went as far as recommending dam removal to FERC, the ultimate referee in the proceeding.

Itís tough for groups that often look at one another across a court room to instead work on mutually acceptable solutions to problems. But weíre doing it. And when the solution comes from the grassroots up and crosses political, ideological, and cultural divides, politicians of all stripes are sure to follow.

 

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