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Agreement On Klamath River Dams To Be Announced

J. Stephen Conn

Gov. Jerry Brown, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, tribal leaders and others are expected to announce a new strategy for ending disputes over the Klamath River Wednesday morning.

A new, bi-state entity will assume financial liability for removing several obsolete dams, an end run around a recalcitrant Congress. Republican House leaders have used parliamentary procedures to save the dams.

Not everyone is pleased. Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa told Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at a congressional hearing last month that the proposal focuses on dam removal, yet leaves questions about agricultural water unresolved.

Republicans aren’t taking being outmaneuvered lying down. When questioning Jewell, LaMalfa all but suggested the new joint California-Oregon body was already mired in extra-legal proceedings.

“With all these secret meetings, a front company being formed, and no and being discussed on how the water supply issues for the people in the Basin this is really a jam job on my district,” LaMalfa said.

The agreement involves compromise between about 50 disparate groups. They include: southern Oregon farmers irrigating thirsty crops; Native tribes in California seeking a thriving salmon fishery; PacifiCorp — an investor-owned utility — and several environmental and fishing organizations.

PacifiCorp surprised many several years ago, announcing it favored removing the four obsolete hydro-electric dams rather than a lengthy relicensing process and expensive retrofits. Without congressional approval, though it could go nowhere. Until, presumably, now.