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County supervisors concerned about Oregon Senate Bill 76

Pioneer Press July 15, 2009

YREKA - The Board of Supervisors has recently become aware that the State of Oregon has passed a bill funding the removal of the Klamath hydroelectric facilities owned by PacifiCorp.

It is of concern to the Board of Supervisors that the State of Oregon is apparently funding the removal of facilities in the State of California and restricting that funding from mitigating the harms caused to the County of Siskiyou by the removal of the facilities. The Oregon bill's intent is to simply cap the exposure of the citizens of Oregon. The intent of the Oregon legislation is to only allow that funding to be used for the physical removal of the facilities and not to mitigate the environmental, economic, and other socio-economic harms caused by the removal of the facilities. The Oregon legislature provides no mechanism for insuring that the clean hydroelectric power currently being produced will be replaced by an equally clean renewable energy source.

It is of concern that the State of Oregon has already predetermined that it will fund the removal of the facilities long before the promised objective cost benefit analysis is performed to determine the feasibility or advisability of removal. It is disturbing that the State of Oregon has funded the removal of the hydroelectric facilities before any reliable studies have been conducted regarding the amount of sediment, the actual costs of removal, and the development of mechanisms to mitigate the economic harms and impacts to the County of Siskiyou. The 47,000 citizens of the County of Siskiyou are the ones who will be harmed as this proposal now stands, while others, some not even residents of California, stand to benefit.

How do the other parties in the State of California, and those parties involved on behalf of the United States, expect to do an objective environmental analysis under CEQA and NEPA when one of the principal proponents of the Agreement has already predetermined that it will fund the removal of the facilities? At what point will the citizens of the states of California and Oregon get to see the actual Agreements that are being negotiated?

Finally, it should be of concern to all that the State of Oregon's position in passing this legislation is that this is their sole financial commitment when there is no other financial commitment for any cost overruns. Who is going to cover the liability when the costs for these activities exceed $450 million? It is presupposed that the citizens of the State of California will approve a $250 million bond on top of the already crippling debt borne by the state with no assurances it will be enough.

It continues to be the concern of the County of Siskiyou that efforts will be made to attach the funding for the California portion of the removal of the facilities to other water bonds or water issues in an attempt to obscure this issue and prohibit the public from being informed as to what could be billions of dollars of expense.

The county calls upon the Obama administration, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Governor of the State of California to not seek or support legislation until the risks of this speculative endeavor are appropriately studied and known or there is a legitimate agreement to safely proceed with review of the possible effects of this endeavor and guaranteed funding, prior to the removal of the facilities, to mitigate the harms to this county.

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