Klamath agreement parties applaud federal statement
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
Four dams owned by PacifiCorp would be removed from the Klamath River under the settlement agreements.
The U.S. Department of the Interior released its much anticipated draft environmental impact statement Wednesday, prompting a chorus of support from stakeholders in the Klamath Restoration Agreements.
The draft statement confirmed that the removal of four dams on the Klamath River, along with other aspects of the agreements, would result in significant economic and environmental benefits to the region.
The statement adds to the momentum of the historic settlement agreement, which was signed last February. The dam removal plan was approved by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission last September.
"Today's report demonstrates the benefits of the (settlement agreements) and the hard work that has gone on in the basin among farmers, tribes, and the fishing and conservation communities over the last few years to create stability and end years of battling over water," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D- Ore., in a statement.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior will use the draft impact statement and related studies to make a decision, due next March, as to whether the removal of the PacifiCorp dams are in the public interest.
In a speech on Monday that previewed some of the results of the statement report, Secretary Ken Salazar said "reliability in water supplies that would be gained would boost gross farm income and add between 70 and 695 jobs annually to the agriculture economy."
The draft impact statement found that the one-year dam-removal process is likely to create 1,400 jobs. Fishing jobs are estimated to increase by 229 positions in the region. The cost of removing the dams is also likely to be less expensive than originally thought.
There is a 60-day comment period on the draft impact statement starting Thursday.
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