Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/03/27/18384016.phpMarch 27, 2007
Regina Chichizola, Klamath Riverkeeper:
(530) 627-3280 or (541) 951-0126
Daniel Cooper, Lawyers for Clean Water:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lawsuit is the first step in Riverkeeper's effort to restore the Klamath
SAN FRANCISCO, CA- Today the Klamath Riverkeeper is filing a citizens enforcement lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Warren Buffett's PacifiCorp for polluting one of the nation's most important and controversial salmon rivers - the Klamath. Klamath Riverkeeper's suit asserts that the Iron Gate Dam hatchery, which is owned and operated by PacifiCorp and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), is unlawfully discharging pollutants into the Klamath River, in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The complaint is seeking an assessment of civil penalties for violations of the CWA, and injunctive relief to enjoin PacifiCorp and the CDFG from further violating its discharge permit and the CWA.
“The Klamath Riverkeeper sent PacifiCorp a 60-day Notice of Intent to File Suit on January 17, 2007, yet PacifiCorp has failed to address these violations,” said Regina Chichizola, the Klamath Riverkeeper. “This left us with no other alternative but to move forward with the suit in order to protect the River, its salmon runs, and the fishing economy of the Klamath River.”
The Iron Gate Dam is just one of four dams owned by PacifiCorp along the Klamath River. Since the dams were built, Klamath salmon numbers have dropped from more than a million to less than 8% of that. The 2006 run was one of the worst in history, according to the Klamath Riverkeeper. Moreover, the poor water quality conditions created in the Iron Gate and Copco reservoirs, have contributed to record-setting levels of a highly toxic algae that has been found behind the dams during the last two years. This toxic algae called Microcystis aeruginosa, which is a liver toxin and tumor promoter, has now been detected hundreds of miles down river, and is just one of the ways the dams pollute the Klamath River. The dams are also creating toxic conditions for the salmon trapped below them because of the release of this polluted water, which has made this part of the river ground zero for fish diseases and juvenile fish kills in the Klamath.
“The constant fish kills and toxic algae resulting from PacifiCorp's management on the Klamath River have devastated the Klamath River economy and put downriver tribes and fishermen at serious risk,” stated Chichizola
Recently, PacifiCorp's corporate profile has been raised due to its acquisition by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. Buffett is known for his philanthropic endeavors and concern for low-income and health challenged communities around the world; however the Riverkeeper asserts that the current dam issue is inconsistent with Buffett's reputation. “Mr. Buffett owns PacifiCorp, yet his ideals are not being reflected in his company's practices in operating a dam that is polluting the Klamath River,” noted Chichizola. “We call on Mr. Buffett to scrutinize PacifiCorp's operation of these dams and take action to prevent further devastation to the River and the salmon. Hopefully, our citizens enforcement suit will be the first step in resolving these issues and restoring the Klamath River and the communities that rely on the River to what they once were.”
Spokespeople information provided below
KLAMATH Regina Chichizola, Klamath Riverkeeper: (530) 627-3280 or
RIVERKEEPER (541) 951-0126
Daniel Cooper, lead attorney for Klamath Riverkeeper,
Lawyers for Clean Water: (415) 440-0246
SPOKESPERSON ON Craig Tucker, Media Spokesman, Karuk Tribe:
KLAMATH DAMS ISSUE: (530) 627-3446 ext. 3027
Regina Chichizola has been the Klamath Riverkeeper for the past six months. She has lived on, and worked for, the Klamath River for nine years. In this time she has greatly expanded the work of four environmental groups and a tribal restoration group. Her skills include legal research, public comment field documentation, grass roots organizing, preparing litigation, campaign strategy, and media. She has helped to stop dozens of public lands old growth timber sales and toxic spray projects through lawsuits, political pressure, and community organizing. She most recently has focused on the efforts to save the Klamath salmon and Un-dam the Klamath before taking on water quality issues through the Klamath watershed as the Riverkeeper.
Daniel Cooper is a 1990 graduate of Golden Gate University School of Law. Since being admitted to the Bar in 1991, Mr. Cooper has maintained an environmental litigation practice representing a variety of non-profit groups. His primary clients have been the Keeper organizations. Mr. Cooper has been co-counsel on more than 100 successful Clean Water Act enforcement actions in his career. Through his litigation, Mr. Cooper has helped develop the model for citizen enforcement of stormwater regulation under the Clean Water Act. Mr. Cooper's litigation has helped secure broad compliance with environmental laws, penalties for non-compliance, industry conversions to cleaner and more environmentally sound technologies, and several million dollars in mitigation to redress harms caused by violators. Additionally, he participates directly with state agencies by commenting on various stormwater, industrial, and construction permits throughout California, as well challenging permits issued by the Regional Board and the State Water Resources Control Board, both administratively and in Superior Court. While in law school, Mr. Cooper worked as an extern at the Natural Heritage Institute, an environmental advocacy organization, and at the California Attorney General's Office, Environmental Enforcement Section.
Craig Tucker received his B.S. in biochemistry from Clemson University in 1993. He went on to get a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1999. After graduate school he gave up laboratory science for a career as an environmental and social justice activist. In 2000 Craig joined Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing. While in Green Corp, Craig learned fundamental grassroots organizing skills. After Green Corps he worked as Outreach Director at Friends of the River, developing grassroots campaigns on a variety of California water issues. Each campaign was based on the connection between sustainable environmental policy and social justice. Currently Craig is the Campaign Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe's 'Bring the Salmon Home' campaign. The goal: removal of four dams on the Klamath River which would represent the largest dam removal project in history.
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