Walden to push Basin
water pact; congressman to sponsor new version of agreement
by Gerry O'Brien, Herald and
Congressman Greg Walden said he is close to drafting a bill
in the House that will focus on resolving the water issues
for the Klamath Basin.
will likely include the removal of the four dams that sit on
the Klamath River and have been a source of dispute among
parties who have not signed on to the water agreement.
has been adamant about not removing the dams, but has
softened that stance in the last few years.
wide-ranging interview with the Herald and News Wednesday,
Walden, a Republican from Hood River, said, “Personally, I’m
not a dam removal support guy. But the facts that have been
agreed to (in the pact) require (dam removal) and there are
really no alternatives unless you want to blow the whole
agreement apart and give up on water certainty for
agriculture and all the other components that go with the
agreement is called the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic
Restoration Act. It was hammered out by irrigators, the
Klamath Tribes, environmental groups, state and local
officials as a compromise to provide consistent water to
farmers and ranchers, as well as keep enough water in Upper
Klamath Lake and the Klamath River for protection of
endangered fish species.
Bill 133 was introduced in January in the Senate Committee
on Energy and Natural Resources, but has yet to move
forward. It must pass the House and Senate and be signed by
the president before it can become law. SB 133 was about to
be heard in committee prior to the August recess, but more
pressing energy matters took the stage.
Walden plans to sponsor a similar bill in the House, but he
was not ready to talk specifics.
been working pretty aggressively in the last year reviewing
all the issues surrounding the Klamath Basin Restoration
Agreement (KBRA); the liability, sediment issues, dam
removal, the whole thing,” he said. “And, we’ve been working
closely with the Tribes, the water users in the lower basin,
PacifiCorp (the dam owners) and the state and governor’s
office. So there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.”
drafted, Walden said he wants to confer with the agreement
parties before releasing it in the House.
drafted, it will have to go before the House Natural
Resources committee which includes California Republican
congressmen Doug LaMalfa and Tom McClintock. In September at
the Tulelake fair, LaMalfa said he remains adamantly opposed
to dam removal. Three of the four dams are in his district.
don’t know if LaMalfa will support my bill or not. I respect
him and he’s a good man, but we may wind up in different
places on this,” Walden said.
topics Walden discussed:
House speaker selection: “I’m a big admirer of Paul
Ryan. He’s a smart policy guy. Knows the issues well. I
know it is the last job he wants. I was asked if I would
be willing to serve as interim speaker and yes, I would
not shy away from a tough job. But I’m not seeking it.”
- Liquefied natural
gas pipeline proposed to run through Klamath County and
awaiting final federal approval: “I think it needs to be
built. That’s not popular if you live along the
pipeline. But we need to build up America’s energy and
get it into the world market. Foreign nations are
begging and pleading to get it on the world market.”
- Iran nuclear
agreement: “It’s awful. It will lead to a more
militarized Middle East. In 10 to 12 years they will
have plutonium-grade weapons.”
- Gun control: In
light of the shooting at Umpqua Community College,
Walden said, “First and foremost our prayers are with
the families, the victims and the whole community.
Oregon’s gun laws are adequate. Mental illness
legislation may be the way to help keep care for
mentally ill kids who, when they turn 18, are without
It’s been five years
since the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement was first
signed. Supporters heralded it as the solution to the
Basin’s water issues stemming back to the 2001 water
The KBRA is partnered
with the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, and
in 2014 the two were joined by the Upper Klamath Basin
Now KBRA supporters wait
to see if Congress will pass the Klamath Water Recovery
and Economic Restoration Act, which combines the three
agreements into one comprehensive bill.
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