[env-trinity] EDITORIAL On the Environment A Klamath win

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed Apr 6 06:14:50 PDT 2016

EDITORIAL On the Environment

A Klamath win
The ground is beginning to crumble under a string of Klamath River dams as politics gives way to a monumental plan to restore the river’s fading health. Gov. Jerry Brown is joining Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at the river’s mouth to push a removal plan that skips past a Republican blockade in Congress.The demolition scheme, years in the making, will be the biggest in the nation, taking down four structures dating back nearly a century. The dams have turned toxic, pouring out warm, algae-laden water blamed for declining salmon runs on one of the West Coast’s top fish-rearing rivers. Removal, long a dream of environmental and fishing groups, took hold as Indian tribes and farmers in upstream Oregon joined in.The official gathering in Requa in Del Norte County should put the issue’s uncertain future back on track. The removal plan — taking in river restoration work along with jack hammering away concrete was stopped in Congress. Republicans bridled at the cost and implications of knocking down dams.The Klamath’s broad constituency isn’t giving up. Oregon Gov. Kathy Brown is joining California’s Brown to emphasize that the two states are aligned. A voter-approved California bond will pay part of the $450 million bill. Electric ratepayers along the Klamath in both states have paid $100 million in surcharges since 2010 for removal due to start in 2020. PacifiCorp, the power firm that owns the four dams, will hand over the structures to a new entity responsible for demolition.The next stop in the path around Congress is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees power dams. Once its members see the long line of supporters and a utility willing to wave goodbye to the dams, the commissioners should go with plan as they have with lesser projects before.That day can’t come soon enough. It’s time to take down the walls at last.
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