Pact could remove four Klamath River dams

Chris Rizo Nov. 14, 2008, 8:38am

Ted Kulongoski (D)

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. government, along with Oregon and California, and PacifiCorp have announced an agreement that could resolve the long-running environmental dispute over Klamath River water by removing four dams on the river by 2020.

The Agreement in Principle announced Thursday provides a framework for the presumed transfer of four hydroelectric dams from PacifiCorp to a government-designated dam removal entity, which would undertake the removal of those dams, and sets a time line for the signing of a final agreement.

The nonbinding agreement calls for a final agreement by June 30, 2009. It gives the U.S. secretary of the interior until 2012 to determine whether removing the aging dams is feasible.

PacifiCorp has agreed to raise $200 million of the cost of removing of the dams, which have been blamed for diminishing fish stocks, by implementing a surcharge on its customers in California and Oregon.

The agreement was hailed by the states, federal government, tribes and environmentalists.

"While many months of work lay ahead, this historic agreement provides a path forward to achieve the largest river and salmon restoration effort ever undertaken in a way that's good for fish, PacifiCorp customers, and local communities and our sovereign tribes," Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said.

"With Oregon's best interests in mind, it is with great pride that I will be taking the first step in implementing this agreement by offering legislation to support the dam decommissioning and removal process," the Democratic governor added.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne said the path forward will help protect fish, PacifiCorp customers and the local cultures and communities in the two-state Klamath River basin.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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