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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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https://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/2019/10/opinion-klamath-dam-removal-is-not-a-partisan-issue.html?fbclid=IwAR3pJyU3kS3GQTiMGQrNczq06E1K5XHgfg6t4cW8zkZYy74-VkRfjOq5Vpo

Atkinson, a former Oregon state legislator for 14 years, wrote and produced the film ďA River Between UsĒ documenting the restoration of the Klamath River. He is a Rodel Fellow with the Aspen Institute.

{KBC NOTE: Aspen Institute receives financial support from George Sorosís Open Society Institute: https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individuals/george-soros/
Soros financially supports many of the environmental groups and tribes that have litigated against the farmersí and ranchersí water rights, power rates, and those trying to save our Klamath hydro dams: 
http://klamathbasincrisis.org/funding
thedemise/Soros/georgesorostoc.htm
Sorosís history is very enlightening, a must read: http://klamathbasincrisis.org/fundingthedemise/Soros/history.htm : gun control, marijuana legalization, Clintons and Obama....}

Todayís noisy partisan divide concerns me and makes the thought of meaningful collaboration across parties seem impossible. However, the largest river restoration project in history, spanning the California-Oregon border, tells a hopeful story offering a blueprint for political, conservation and economic progress.

The project to remove the four lower Klamath River dams was born in bipartisanship. When I served as Republican state senator representing southern Oregon counties, I worked with my colleagues across the aisle to move this vital project forward. Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed executive actions entering their respective states into the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, calling for removing four dams in the river. The deal, hatched during the George W. Bush Administration, was grounded in private property rights, irrigation policy and respect for Native Americans. After the film ďA River Between UsĒ was released to a national audience, the Obama Administration did all it could to move the project to completion.

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People continue to believe the question of dam removal comes down to dams vs. irrigators, but thatís simply not true. The dams do nothing for irrigation Ė all four dams are located below the majority of farming and ranching operations Ė and dam removal does not change the ability to draw water for crops. This once mighty and highly productive river has for decades been hobbled by terrible water quality, which is aggravated by the dams. Toxic blue green algae, fostered by the warm, shallow water in the reservoirs, makes the river dangerous during hot summer months. The deadly C. Shasta parasite flourishes in dam-created conditions, rotting the guts of salmon and steelhead. The dams also cut off hundreds of miles of historical spawning and rearing habitat, access to which is essential for the recovery of these native fishes. Decimated fish stocks have severely impacted commercial and recreational salmon fishing industries, draining much-needed prosperity out of the Klamath region and robbed Klamath, Karuk and Yurok Tribes of sustenance and a vital cultural resource.

Thankfully, the river can be healed, and dam removal is foundational step in revitalization.

Planning and design work needed for reservoir drawdown, dam removal and river restoration is already underway. As the project moves into full swing itís expected to directly create more than 400 high-paying jobs along the Klamath and support more than 1,000 local jobs indirectly. This will be a giant shot in the arm for the Klamath region, which has long struggled to regain its economic footing after the collapse of the timber industry.

The project also recognizes the dam owner PacifiCorp has the private property right to take down these dams rather than rather than continue operations with significant and costly upgrades that would likely be required as part of the relicensing process. The negligible amount of power lost will not affect PacifiCorp's ability to deliver power to its customers. Coupled with ratepayer cost caps set by state public utility commissions and liability protections baked into the settlement setting the terms for dam removal, this project provides an indisputable cost savings for electricity ratepayers.

This project checks boxes on both sides of the political aisle, with environmental and wildlife benefits as well as job creation and private property protections. Tribal respect and rights are balanced with sustained agriculture. Support for these outcomes is not exclusive to either party, and everyone can celebrate all of these benefits, even if they donít rank them in exactly the same order.

The final critical step in the dam removal process is for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve transfer of the hydroelectric licenses to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a non-profit created to oversee dam deconstruction and river restoration. The nonprofit has created acomprehensive package for FERC showing it has the capacity to take on the licenses and complete this landmark project. The time is now for FERC to give the green light to this essential project.

As a member of a family who has been on the river for 90 years, as someone who has worked his life on this project, and as a former legislative leader committed to practical solutions, it is my sincere hope FERC signs off on this bipartisan project so the entire Klamath community can finally move on to a prosperous future for all.

 

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