Feds Approve Klamath Salmon Restoration Plan

By Published On: January 7, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave its permission to proceed with an agreement that includes changes to river flows to help increase the chances of salmon surviving in the Klamath River. PacificCorp owns 169 MW of hydroelectric capacity on the river. Although the plan itself was declared final by EPA, dam removal approval as part of restoration is still in the works. The plan has been under consideration for 13 years. Stakeholders include state agencies, tribes, farmers, and environmentalists. Tearing down hydroelectric facilities to increase river flows could come as soon as 2020 under the deal. To do that, Congress is supposed to pass legislation to provide $1 billion in funding. Lawmakers have yet to act on the legislation, according to Matt Baun, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spokesperson. The states of California and Oregon, which share the river, also are expected to raise $450 million for their contribution. ”The process to collect Oregon’s share, $200 million, is in place--a bill (SB 76) having been passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor,” noted Baun. He added that California’s share, a bond measure to fund $250 million, is not in place PacifiCorp ratepayers are set to contribute $200 million over 10 years. When Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar signed the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement last February, he agreed to additional scientific, economic, engineering, and environmental studies. “The federal team is now in the process of conducting these studies as well as developing a joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act,” according to Baun. “The criteria are: will dam removal (1) advance salmonid restoration in the Klamath Basin, and (2) will dam removal be in the public interest.” The California Energy Commission determined in 2004 that dam removal would not affect the state’s transmission grid or electric reliability.

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