States of California and Oregon demonstrate “timely and critical leadership” in resolving issues related to transfer of ownership and removal of four old fish-blocking dams on the Klamath River.
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore—Trout Unlimited (TU) lauded the Memorandum of Agreement signed today by the States of California and Oregon, the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, PacifiCorp, and Klamath River Renewal Corporation. With the agreement, the two states and Berkshire Hathaway-owned PacifiCorp agreed to provide additional resources and support for dam removal through the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.
“Leadership matters. This is happening because Governor Newsom, Governor Brown, and Warren Buffett’s executive team made it happen,” said Chrysten Lambert, Oregon Director for Trout Unlimited. “After decades of leadership by the tribes and strong support from conservation and fishing groups, the project is moving forward.”
“Today’s agreement solves the remaining issues associated with the project and clears the way for dam removal,” said Brian J. Johnson, California Director for Trout Unlimited. “This is not a back-up plan. This is a better version of the plan.”
The Memorandum of Agreement describes how the parties will implement the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement as negotiated and signed in 2016. The KHSA sets the terms for the removal of four antiquated Klamath River dams currently owned by PacifiCorp. Dam removal through the KHSA is the keystone to decades of effort by tribes, resource agencies, and conservation groups to restore the Klamath River and its once-prolific runs of salmon and steelhead. The KHSA reflects the utility’s determination that continuing to operate the dams is not in the best interest of ratepayers, and years of analysis affirming that dam removal is the best way to restore the Klamath’s legendary runs of salmon, steelhead, and four species of sucker fish.
Specifically, under the MOA the parties will:
• Jointly ask FERC to remove PacifiCorp from the license for the project and add California, Oregon and KRRC as co-licensees for carrying out dam removal. Adding the states as co-licensees provides assurances that the project will have sufficient financial backing while honoring settlement terms that stipulate PacifiCorp would not be a co-licensee for removal.
• Demonstrate their firm commitment to dam removal.
• Agree to nearly double available contingency funds held by KRRC and contractors and, in the unlikely event that additional funds are needed beyond that, Oregon, California and PacifiCorp will share the costs equally to address FERC’s requirement to ensure full funding for the project.
• Confirm that the KRRC will remain the dam removal entity for the project.
• Plan to navigate the final regulatory approvals necessary to allow the project to begin in 2022 with dam removal in 2023. Site remediation and restoration will continue beyond 2023.
• Retain the liability protections for PacifiCorp’s customers established in the KHSA.
Taken together, these provisions are intended to resolve FERC’s concerns raised in a July 2020 order and ensure a successful dam removal project.
Trout Unlimited is a signatory to the KHSA, and has worked closely with all Klamath stakeholders over the past twenty years to resolve water management challenges in the Klamath Basin, to develop cooperatively a permanent fix for the impacts of the four dams on fish, and to restore habitat, fish passage and water quality in Klamath Lake and its tributaries.