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Dam Costs Run High
Printed in the Oregonian - 12/26/07
In the increasingly heated debate over the fate of the Klamath River
dams, Pacific Power has tried to muddy the facts. In reality, dam
removal on the Klamath is supported by science, would not affect
flooding and would cost PacifiCorp's customers much less money than
keeping the dams.
The California Energy Commission has done two studies on the economics
of the Klamath dams that show dam removal could cost up to $270 million
less than relicensing.
Add this to the millions in disaster relief for commercial fishermen who
lost their livelihoods to the 2006 salmon closure and the economic
effects of these reservoirs having some of the world's highest levels of
toxic algae, and those dams are looking really expensive.
REGINA CHICHIZOLA Klamath Riverkeeper Ashland
Klamath Riverkeeper's full response to PacifiCorp's Commentary in the Oregonian:
PacifiCorp would keep killing salmon while increasing power rates.
The facts on the Klamath Dams
In the increasingly heated debate over the fate of the Klamath River dams Pacific Power has tried to muddy the facts.
In reality dam removal on the Klamath is supported by science, will not effect flooding, and would cost PacifiCorp's costumers much less money then keeping the dams.
Energy analysts are so certain that keeping the dams would cost more money than removing them, they sent a signed letter to Public Utilities Commissions in three states asking them not to approve ratepayer hikes for costly upgrades associated with relicensing the Klamath Dams. In fact, they suggested only approving rate changes for decommissioning. Special interests? No, this was the California Energy Commission.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released another analysis this month confirming the economics. According to FERC, Pacific Power customers will save $210 million by removing the dams. Add this to the millions of taxpayer dollars in disaster relief for commercial fisherman that lost their livelihoods to the 2006 salmon closure, and those dams are looking expensive.
A grassroots coalition of Native Tribes, commercial fishermen, ratepayer advocates, and conservationists has formed to tell the real story behind the Klamath Dams.
Scientists and tribal water quality officials have discovered that PacifiCorp's dams are responsible not just for blocking fish from half of the Klamath watershed, but also for outbreaks of toxic algae at levels thousands of times what officials consider harmful to human health. Dangerous to touch and toxic when ingested, the toxic algae created by PacifiCorp's reservoirs is a known liver toxin implicated in tumor growth and organ failure. PacifiCorp was aware of this problem, but did not inform the public until the Karuk Tribe did its own analysis. Meanwhile, the Klamath communities, which are dependent on fishing and recreation dollars, have suffered.
Removing the dams is not risky. Many environmental studies have been done that show dam removal can be done safely and environmentally, and many studies are still occurring. It is clear that leaving the dams in place will mean the Klamath remains a disaster.
PacifiCorp knows they cannot turn a profit on the Klamath anymore. So they try to maintain the status quo with stalling tactics. NowPacific Power is attempting to convince the public that we don't know enough to remove dams, despite the dam removal projects happening all over the West. The truth is Klamath dam removal is the best way to save fish, and the communities that depend on them, and it can be accomplished safely while bringing economic benefits to local communities, and to PacifiCorp's ratepayers.
The Klamath dams generate little electricity, provide no flood protection, and no irrigation diversions. They do kill fish and breed toxic algae. Together Klamath residents and rate-payers can convince Pacific Power to make the right decision on the Klamath.