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Wheels keep turning in lawsuit to retain dams

Siskiyou Daily News 2/12/19

The Siskiyou County Water Users Association received confirmation that its writ of mandamus, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in November, 2018, has been scheduled for the docket early next month.

SISKIYOU COUNTY – Wheels continue to turn in a Siskiyou County nonprofit’s court case to foil the Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s plan to remove four hydroelectric dams.

The Siskiyou County Water Users Association received confirmation that its writ of mandamus, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in November, 2018, has been scheduled for the docket early next month.

The writ asks the court to compel the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to rule on a motion the SCWUA filed in April, 2018, which attempts to stop the transfer of the dams’ ownership to the KRRC – the nonprofit formed to decommission them.

The motion to dismiss is based on the Klamath Compact, “a federal statute intended to protect the Klamath River and the prescribed uses of the river including the hydro-electric facilities constructed there,” the SCWUA said in a press release.

“It is our opinion that the parties to the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Service Agreement and the states of Oregon, California and the other signatory parties to the amended agreement, including PacifiCorp and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation are attempting to evade federal law ... by seeking to transfer the dams to a third party, KRRC, for purposes of destruction of the hydroelectric facilities and the reservoirs behind them,” said Siskiyou County Water Users Association president Richard Marshall.

“This amended agreement was entered into on April 6, 2016. This third party we also contend is not financially or professionally equipped to handle a project of this magnitude,” he added.

Marshall and the SCWUA believe the amended KHSA agreement “was not submitted to the FERC for approval nor has Congress enacted any legislation to approve the process or amend the existing compact.”

The Klamath Compact, Marshall explained, was signed in 1957 “after many years of intensive and substantive negotiations between all parties for the purpose of managing the waters of the Klamath River, a federal asset.”

Marshall said in an earlier form the original KHSA agreement “was unable to garner public or Congressional support.”

Hel pointed to Measure G – an advisory vote that appeared on Siskiyou County residents’ 2010 ballot. More than 78 percent of voters responded “no” to the ballot question: “Should the Klamath River Dams (Iron Gate, Copco 1, and Copco 2) and associated hydroelectric facilities be removed?”

He also called attention to a poll in which 75 percent of Klamath County residents said they were in favor of keeping the dams in place.

″ ... We adamantly feel compelled to demand that the FERC rule on our motion to dismiss,” Marshall said in the release. “This actually should be the very first action by the FERC to respond to our request as opposed to continuing to move forward on the application submitted to it by PacifiCorp and KRRC as the ultimate decision regarding the compact necessarily directs the action before the Federal Energy Commission.”

The writ of mandamus was filed by SCWUA’s attorney, James Buchal of Murphy and Buchal in Portland, Ore. with nearly 200 pages of supporting documents, Marshall said.


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