[env-trinity] Redding.com Editorial: Finances remain the sticking point for Klamath deals

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Mon Jan 7 08:17:56 PST 2013


Editorial: Finances remain the sticking point for Klamath deals
Staff Reports

Monday, January 7, 2013

Talk about swimming against a swift current.

The 42 different groups, tribes and government agencies that are part of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement all agreed, just before the deal lapsed at the end of the 2012, to extend it for two more years and try once again to win the necessary support — and money — from the U.S. Congress.

You can't fault advocates for trying, but by the end of 2014, you're more likely to see coho salmon spawning in Modoc County than an $800 million authorization from our sharply divided Congress.

The region's new representative, Doug LaMalfa, has no interest in the KBRA and especially the associated dam-removal project. The House Republican majority is keenly interested in controlling spending.

And sooner or later trillion-dollar annual deficits that cannot continue forever will end. Federal budgets for existing work will shrink — and sharply. Just what chance will costly new ventures have?

Critics of the Klamath agreements — who include both local conservatives who oppose dam removal and some environmentalists and Indian tribes who think the deals are too generous to irrigators — might think their collapse is a political victory. It is not.

Without some kind of progress, the Klamath River's future will look like its past — complete with water shortages, toxic algae, mass fish die-offs, endless expensive litigation. The agreements, controversial as they remain and as little momentum as they've built, are the closest thing anyone's proposed to a consensus that would let residents move forward productively.

But it was an obvious hangup from day one that the deals depend on massive outside funding — from both Congress and a California water bond whose future is doubtful. An agreement that other people will spend millions of dollars is a hard one to rely on.

Best of luck to the proponents, but at some point we have to ask ourselves a pessimistic question: Can we even afford to fix the damage we've done to our environment?
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