The Redding Record-Searchlight’s astute editorial on Klamath Dam removal covers a lot of ground, but two passages nicely sum up the reality of the four lower Klamath River dams:
It won’t happen this year or next, but the exhaustively documented federal environmental impact statement on the dismantling of the Klamath River dams, which the U.S. Department of Interior released Thursday, all but assures that, sooner or later, those dams will go.
The arguments over the Klamath River hydroelectric dams are steeped in so much ideology — and elemental disputes over whether we should tame or “rewild” the West — that it’s easy to lose sight of the practical issue. Namely, substantial evidence shows the dams just do more harm than they’re worth, and the laws our Congress has passed require a remedy for that situation, even if Congress can’t agree to pay for the closest thing to a solution anyone has crafted.
With over 9000 pages of triple-peer-reviewed scientific studies now part of the public record — studies which conclusively show that removing the aging Klamath River dams represents the best way forward for PacifiCorp’s ratepayers, for fisheries, Native American tribes and irrigators — it’s clear the Record-Searchlight is on the right track.
It’s a shame congress isn’t on a similar path.
With a dysfunctional congress unwilling to move simple legislation, even the Klamath Basin Agreements (KBRA & KHSA) — common sense accords which were negotiated by 42 stakeholders and which represent the best way to remove the dams and resolve the Klamath Basin’s sizable water issues — face tough opposition.
After a winter of near-record-low precipitation, a difficult water year looms for the Klamath Basin. Those who failed to move the KBRA/KHSA legislation could soon get a glimpse of a KBRA-free future, and given the legal and real battles fought in the basin over just the past two decades, that future will likely be a contentious, painful exercise where no one prospers.