The United States
Department of Interior held a listening session Tuesday
evening at the Klamath County fairgrounds to determine
public opinion regarding their plans to decommission and
demolish the four PacifiCorp owned hydroelectric dams on
the Klamath River. We estimate that the event was
attended by between three hundred and four hundred
people during the course of the evening.
By our unofficial
count, seventy two people spoke at the microphone.
Twenty people, or twenty eight percent, spoke in support
of dam removal. Of those twenty supporters five were
identifiable as Klamath Project irrigators, two of which
farm primarily in Oregon and three that farm primarily
in California. Four supporters identified themselves as
Klamath Tribal members or their employees. Two either
are or have been employed by Sustainable Northwest and
another is employed in water restoration projects.
Fifty two people, or
seventy two percent, spoke in opposition to dam removal.
Of those fifty two supporters sixteen were identifiable
as project irrigators, fourteen of which we believe farm
primarily in Oregon and two who farm primarily in
California. No Tribal members or their employees opposed
dam removal. One Klamath City Councilor, one Klamath
County Commissioner, and state Senator Doug Whitsett
spoke in opposition to dam removal as well as three
candidates for the Klamath County Board of
Commissioners. No local elected official spoke in
support of removing the dams.
In May of 2009 Rep.
Garrard, Rep. Gilman and I commissioned an independent
telephone poll to determine the level of support for the
removal of the four hydro electric dams on the Klamath
We three legislators,
who represent the entire Klamath River watershed in
Oregon, privately paid the cost of the professional poll
performed by a licensed polling firm, Target Market
Strategies located in Portland, Oregon.
Strategies independently wrote the questions and
randomly selected three hundred Klamath County
registered voters to participate in the poll.
The poll achieved a
statistical confidence of ninety five percent (95%).
That level of statistical confidence means that if the
poll were repeated one hundred times, the same results
would occur ninety five out of one hundred times.
The poll determined
that sixty five percent of Klamath County residents
opposed the destruction of the hydroelectric dams at
There was no
statistical difference in the response among those
polled in Chiloquin, Klamath Falls, Merrill, Malin or
Bonanza. Respondents uniformly opposed dam removal by a
two to one margin.
There was no
statistical difference between age groups, or the sex of
the respondents, or among political party affiliation.
Across the board two out of three Klamath County
residents opposed the demolition of the hydropower
Supporters of dam
destruction have attempted to minimize the poll. Some of
the same folks have hired high powered public relations
firms to attempt to sway public opinion toward accepting
the destruction of our hydroelectric infrastructure.
County, state, federal and tribal governments, as well
as media outlets, have had both adequate funding, and
the opportunity, to develop their own public opinion
The professional 2009
public opinion poll conducted by an independent Portland
firm cost less than $5,000. Yet in more than two years,
no one has published a poll that even attempts to
contradict that two-thirds level of public opposition to
In the fall of 2009
the same three legislators sponsored and held two public
listening sessions at the Klamath County fairgrounds. At
that time it seemed apparent that supporters of the
destruction of the Klamath River hydroelectric
infrastructure unofficially boycotted those listening
sessions. In fact, some of those supporters actually
scheduled a luncheon with some local elected officials
at the same time as the long scheduled afternoon
Nevertheless, the two
sessions were attended by well more than 300 people.
Both oral and written testimony was accepted. More than
ninety citizens expressed their opposition to the
removal of the Klamath River dams including no less than
twenty project irrigators. No one testified in support
of the destruction of the hydroelectric infrastructure.
The only logical
conclusions are that the 2009 legislative poll was not
only accurate but that the two-thirds level of
opposition to the destruction of our hydroelectric
infrastructure remains viable and vocal.
philosophical opposition to the destruction of our
nationís hydroelectric infrastructure is well known.
However, my responsibility to listen to the people that
have I been elected to represent is much more important
than my private opinion. Two thirds or more of those
people have been consistently voicing their strong
opposition to dam removal for well more than two years.
I will continue to try to represent those peoplesí
judgment so long as I am privileged to represent them in
the Oregon Senate.