Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Klamath Dam Removal

The Klamath River supports a diversity of anadromous fish. A potential victory for fish and conservationist is the removal of one of the four dams. Still a long way before the scheduled removal but the fact the funding is there, is a great success! To read more on the Klamath River see Klamath Riverkeepers .

This article was taken from Oregon Live.

A bill to fund Klamath River dam removal won approval in the Oregon House today.
The bill is part of a larger agreement to restore fish runs in the fractious Klamath Basin and offer some certainty to farmers, tribes and others who compete for its resources.
Approved by the Democrat-controlled House on a largely party line vote of 34-24, Senate Bill 76 has already passed the senate. Once the two versions are reconciled it only needs the signature of Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who supports it, to become law.
"This is one step in a long process that could result in the removal of the four Klamath River dams and restore this once wild river," said Rep. Ben Cannon (D-Portland).
At its core the proposal would raise $180 million from Oregon customers of PacifiCorp, the utility that owns the hydroelectric dams. Another $20 million would come from California ratepayers.
The utility estimates it would cost their average Oregon customer an extra $1.50 a month, but the bill limits the ratepayers and state's taxpayers from paying any more for dam removal. The surcharge would show up next year and last ten years.
In addition, the state of California is expected to ask voters to approve up to $250 million in bonds to cover the rest of the tab for dam removal, which could begin after 2020.
Kulongoski introduced the bill after signing a dam removal deal with California, the federal government and PacifiCorp. But passage of the bill doesn't guarantee that the dams will come down - that would require further federal action and debate - but it does set the terms by which Oregonians will pay for it.
And opponents, like Republican Rep. Bill Garrard of Klamath Falls, contend dam removal eliminates a source of greenhouse gas-free electricity at a time of rising concerns over climate change. And it comes with too many unknowns - like the toxicity of sediment built up behind the dams - that could lead to cost overruns that come back haunt legislators.
"The people of the Klamath Basin don't support dam removal," said Nick Smith, a spokesman for House Republicans.
But the bill's supporters say removing will be cheaper than re-licensing the aging dams, and the bill protects Oregonians from footing the bill for unseen costs.
"Compared to re-licensing, this bill will help avoid litigation, cap costs for ratepayers, and save millions of dollars in the long run," said James Honey, Klamath Program coordinator for Sustainable Northwest, a Portland group that advocated for the bill.