Friday, March 30, 2012

The Big Policy Picture: Is the KHSA a good model for other rivers with obsolete hydro dams?

Beginning early in the 20th century and continuing through the 1960s thousands of hydroelectric dams were constructed on hundreds of US rivers and streams. Now portions of that vast infrastructure are reaching the end of their useful livers and will be shut down; the dams will be breached, removed or left in place. Thus, over the next decade, the current dam removal trickle is likely to become a flood.
How the US deals with this vast undertaking has implications not only for the rivers and streams on which these projects are located but also for American Taxpayers.

Removal of  Glines Canyon Dam on the Olympic Peninsula

Whether removing PacifiCorp's Klamath River dams is in the public interest continues to be publicly debated. However, broader policy implications of how Klamath dam removal would be accomplished under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement - the KHSA - have not been discussed.

Members of Congress and taxpaying citizens should consider what sort of precedent the KHSA would set and whether it is a good and a fair approach to dam removal not just on the Klamath but nation-wide.Those questions are discussed below.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Underreported: PacifiCorp gets permit to kill Coho; the Klamath’s traditional “salmon defenders” are as silent as church mice

While press attention was focused on peer review of Interior’s “Overview Report” on effects of the KHSA and KBRA, one of the “promises” granted to PacifiCorp in the KHSA Dam Deal was quietly delivered in early March.

As promised in KHSA section 6.2.2, the National Marine Fisheries Service delivered a permit which will allows PacifiCorp’s Klamath River Dams to continue killing Coho Salmon with impunity in exchange for – you guessed it - money. The permit will remain in effect until PacifiCorp’s Klamath River dams come down – subject to another agency review in ten years.

How long will PacifiCorp's Klamath River Dams be allowed to continue to kill salmon?

Section 6.2.2 of the KHSA states:  
        The Services shall review PacifiCorp’s application to incorporate the Interim Conservation Plan measures into an incidental take permit pursuant to ESA  Section 10 and applicable implementing regulations” and that “each Party (signing the KHSA) shall support PacifiCorp’s request for a license amendment or incidental take permit to incorporate the Interim Conservation Plan measures.”

In other words, those former defenders of Klamath Salmon who signed the KHSA are now obligated to actively support issuance of the permit allowing PacifiCorp to kill Coho. Whether the new permit is actually in the interest of or detrimental to Klamath River Salmon is now irrelevant for those organizations and tribal governments. This is just one of several ways those signing the KHSA and KBRA have been co-opted and controlled.

At the current rate of progress - and if KHSA/KBRA promoters continue to stubbornly cling to their deal fantasies instead of returning to the normal FERC process – the ten year permit review is likely to come around with PacifiCorp’s salmon-killing dams still in place.