over Klamath River water: KRRC's dam removal efforts continue
and tribes have filed a lawsuit challenging new endangered
species protection guidelines for the Klamath River.
targets the biological opinion, which is an assessment of
how the Bureau of Reclamation manages river flow, irrigation
water and levels in Upper Klamath Lake to ensure protection
of coho salmon and two species of sucker fish. The newest
opinion was finalized earlier this year.
filed by the Yurok Tribe, the Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen’s Associations and the Institute for Fisheries
Resource says the biological opinion is too permissive,
allowing irrigation withdrawals at the expense of fish.
argues the river levels don’t require enough flow to prevent
disease outbreaks and “will reduce the amount of Coho
rearing habitat to far less than the standard the National
Marine Fisheries Service has deemed necessary to conserve
The groups are
asking the district court judge to throw out the current
biological opinion and require the Bureau of Reclamation and
National Marine Fisheries Service to start again.
Marine Fisheries Service declined to comment on pending
As it stands,
the current biological opinion will cover Bureau of
Reclamation operations on the Klamath River through 2024.
But conditions on the Klamath could change significantly if
a plan to remove four Oregon and California dams on the
river is approved by federal and state energy regulators.
River Renewal Corporation is going through the regulatory
process with federal and state agencies in hopes they will
allow the dams to be removed by 2022.
evidence to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this
week, attempting to show that a small nonprofit corporation
has the know-how to get the job done.
the four Klamath River dams, but the utility doesn’t want to
take on any liability that could result from dam removal. To
ensure this, PacifiCorp plans to transfer ownership of the
dams to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation.
A transfer of
this sort requires FERC approval.
“If we were
SoCal Edison or PG&E, it would almost be a rubber stamp, if
we were just transferring a facility to another utility.
FERC has never allowed the transfer of a hydropower facility
to a nonprofit corporation,” said KRRC community liaison
KRRC made a significant regulatory filing to FERC to show
the nonprofit corporation has the funding and insurance
energy regulators approve the transfer of ownership, KRRC
would then have to seek approval to take down the dams. KRCC
says the result would be the “largest dam removal and river
restoration project in U.S. history.”
Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and California Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Kamala Harris co-signed a letter to FERC
Secretary Kimberly Bose Thursday supporting the transfer of
the dams to KRRC.
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