Enviros squabble over
governor's nominee to Environmental Quality Commission
The Oregonian by Ted Sickinger
May 21, 2018
A handful of environmental groups are pushing back against Gov.
Kate Brown's appointment to the Environmental Quality Commission
because, they contend, he helped redirect millions of taxpayer
dollars away from endangered salmon in the Klamath Basin and
But the nominee, Greg Addington, says that's a far-fetched story
by a group of organizations that got kicked out of the Klamath
Basin settlement talks years ago and haven't forgotten about it.
Other environmental groups rose up in Addington's defense,
saying he's an excellent candidate for the board that oversees
the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Until December 2015, Addington was the executive director of the
Klamath Water Users Association, a nonprofit that advocates for
farming and ranching interests in the region. He was heavily
involved in the 2010 Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the
accompanying settlement to remove four dams on the Klamath
Two months before he resigned, the U.S. Department of the
Interior's inspector general launched an investigation into
whistleblowers' complaints. They alleged that an organization
closely tied to Addington's, the Klamath Water and Power Agency,
had misused millions of dollars that were supposed to benefit
fish and wildlife. Instead, they said, the money went to ensure
water deliveries for private irrigators.
The inspector general's investigation substantiated most of the
whistleblowers' complaints. It concluded that the Bureau of
Reclamation lacked the authority to enter into an agreement with
the Klamath Water and Power Agency, and that the activities
funded did not benefit fish and wildlife, but were used to
benefit irrigators, resulting the waste of $32 million.
Oregon Wild, WaterWatch and the Audobon Society of Portland
contend that Addington and his organization were instrumental in
lobbying for the creation of the Klamath Water and Power Agency,
that they shared staff and held joint board meetings, and that
he bears some responsibility for the weak rules and oversight
surrounding the money.
"Simply put, neither KWAPA nor the money it wasted would never
have existed without the lobbying efforts of Addington and KWUA,"
said Steve Pedery, conservation director at Oregon Wild. "Many
of us in the conservation community were stunned when we learned
of this nomination. It is pretty shocking that Gov. Brown would
nominate a guy who at least bears some of the responsibility for
it to serve on the EQC."
The groups wrote to the Oregon Senate last week to oppose
Addington's nomination to the Environmental Quality Commission.
The confirmation hearings begin Tuesday.
Addington said he spent time with legislators Monday to rebut
the allegations in the letter. He said the Klamath Water and
Power Agency followed the rules laid out by the Bureau of
Reclamation, and that the spending helped wildlife by reducing
irrigators' draw on the Klamath River.
"This boiled down to some of these organizations having a real
problem with this money being spent on farmers," he said. "The
notion that we had the keys to the Treasury and absconded with a
bunch of money is ridiculous.
"This money was not wasted. It kept us alive. And I'd do it
Paul Simmons, an attorney for the Klamath Water Users
Association, said all of the spending by the Klamath Water and
Power Agency was out in the open, and that the organization
disagreed with the inspector general's after-the-fact
conclusions, as did the Bureau of Reclamation.
A number of environmental groups that worked with Addington on
the Klamath Basin agreement also wrote to the the Senate to
support his candidacy
Steve Rothert, the California director for the conservation
group American Rivers, described Addington as "a stand-up guy
who doesn't deserve the allegations levied against him. I saw
him time and again stand up in defense of agreements that were
distasteful, if not outright offensive, to the agricultural
community" in order to move the broader agreement forward.
In a letter to the Senate, Rothert said the historic Klamath
agreements would not exist without Addington. "American Rivers
is confident that Mr. Addington would serve the EQC as a
constructive member with great skill and integrity."
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