Today's big news in the world of fish: Four dams along the Klamath River are slated for removal. Hurrah!
From the NY Times:
The agreement is the product of years of often bitter negotiations among electric utilities, government officials, commercial fishers, farmers, native tribes and environmental groups. It calls for the breaching and removal of four Klamath River hydroelectric plants owned and operated by PacifiCorp.Why would the corporation agree to this? Because they love fish?
PacifiCorp, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., appears ready to go along with the agreement when -- and if -- officials from Oregon, California and the Interior Department make the pact official through a number of policy measures.
PacifiCorp executives appear ready to remove the dams rather than pursue expensive fish-saving modifications that would have cost the utility more than $300 million. A study by the California Energy Commission determined that dam removal would cost about $100 million less than the modifications.Oh, well, whatever works!
UPDATE: Maybe not such a great deal for wildlife and conservation after all.
Klamath Riverkeeper’s position on a final dam deal:Can we get a "better than nothing?"
The package of Klamath agreements and legislation can win the support of Klamath Riverkeeper if it adequately addresses the following issues:
1. Four dams out by 2020 A final hydropower agreement that will remove the dams no later than 2020 must be publicly released and integrated into the KBRA.
2. Sufficient drought planning to prevent fish kills and protect refuges The parameters of a drought plan must be outlined clearly and specifically in the package and must protect fisheries and refuges.
3. Mandatory compliance with clean water laws The agreement must uphold state and federal clean water laws and require compliance with mainstem and tributary pollution limits (TMDLs) mandated by the Clean Water Act.
4. Mandatory compliance with the Endangered Species Act The agreement should not undermine the integrity of the ESA or provide loopholes for non-compliance by any party.
5. California funding for dam removal by 2012 California must secure its financial commitment toward the costs of dam removal by 2012. The state must consider funding mechanisms other than general obligation bonds that may include environmentally damaging projects like a peripheral canal.
6. The federal government as removal agent The U.S. Department of the Interior must take absolute and final responsibility for removing the four dams.
7. No 60-day right of withdrawal for states California and Oregon cannot back out of the agreement, and should take an active role in funding and supporting dam removal on the Klamath River as a necessary step toward river restoration.
8. A federal finding for dam removal based on FERC record The secretarial finding prescribed in the Agreement In Principle should rely on the existing FERC record. Additional studies should be limited to data gaps in the existing record and studies to ensure that removal is safe for downstream communities.
9. Limit PacifiCorp’s immunity to dam removal The agreements and legislation should limit immunity to the act of dam removal. PacifiCorp should still be accountable for decades of damages its dams have caused to public health and fisheries in the Klamath basin.