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Governors Brown and Newsom sign on in support of Klamath River dam removal

With Oregon and California on-board, it seems likely that the project to remove a series of dams on the Klamath River will go forward despite an upset from federal regulators.

Posted: Nov 17, 2020 3:16 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The governors of Oregon and California have agreed to sign on in support of the plan to remove a series of dams along the Klamath River, likely saving a project that recently appeared to founder after a ruling by federal regulators.

The plan to remove the four PacifiCorp dams has been in the works for years now, and saw cooperation between the northwest power company, tribes of the Klamath River Basin, and Pacific Coast fishers who want to see salmon populations rebound.

However, in July the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a ruling that required PacifiCorp to remain a co-licensee even after handing over the dams to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the group that represents stakeholders in the dam removal project.

The FERC's ruling posed a potential upset to the project — keeping PacifiCorp on the hook for at least partial liability if anything were to go wrong.

On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom joined Oregon Governor Kate Brown, leaders from the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, and representatives from the Berkshire Hathaway-owned PacifiCorp in signing onto an agreement that promises to see the project through to completion.

“The Klamath River is a centerpiece of tribal community, culture and sustenance and a national ecological treasure,” Governor Newsom said. “With this agreement, we are closer than ever to restoring access to 400 miles of salmon habitat which will be a boon to the local economy. I am grateful for the partnership between California and Oregon, the Yurok and Karuk Tribes and Berkshire Hathaway that proves when we work together, we can build a better, more inclusive future for all.”

The Memorandum of Agreement signed by those parties asks the FERC to remove PacifiCorp from the license, adding the states of California and Oregon on as co-licensees instead.

"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," Newsom's office said.

The agreement also commits to seeing the dam removal project through, nearly doubles contingency funds for the KRRC and dam removal contractors, and promises to share costs between all parties if needed. KRRC will remain the primary entity in charge of the project.

Under the agreement, the parties agree to seek final regulatory approvals in order to begin the project in 2022, with dam removal slated for 2023. Other restoration work would continue beyond 2023.

The FERC must approve both the new license transfer agreement, and the dam removal plan itself.

“As Yurok tribal people, it is our sacred duty to bring balance to the Klamath River,” Yurok Tribe Chair Joseph James said. “At its heart, dam removal is about healing and restoration for the river, for the salmon, and for our people. We have never wavered from this obligation and we are pleased to see dam removal come closer to reality through this agreement."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357526

Reported Deaths: 4284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55810707
Washington38782324
Marion36837455
Clackamas29779309
Lane27744302
Jackson23059310
Deschutes20336125
Umatilla14492150
Linn12911131
Douglas12118243
Josephine9384196
Yamhill8715113
Klamath8020119
Polk737381
Malheur563677
Benton549431
Coos503794
Columbia382644
Jefferson376052
Lincoln319939
Union319549
Crook291846
Wasco288841
Clatsop244328
Baker203529
Tillamook196932
Hood River192837
Morrow185023
Curry180625
Harney113927
Grant100013
Lake93912
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1523
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4850807

Reported Deaths: 71341
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148419226540
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3673614183
San Bernardino3586775692
Orange3242885562
Sacramento1596362309
Kern1463481648
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921400
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen754347
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
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