Opinion: Questions about Klamath settlement

"After meeting in secret for the past several years, the Bush administration, together with irrigation interests, some tribes and some environmental groups, recently released a draft “Klamath Settlement Agreement.” While the deal has been the subject of breathless hype and exaggeration by its backers, the reality is that it really doesn’t settle much.

Fortunately, now that the deal is public, we can all start asking some tough questions.

Where is the dam removal in this dam deal?

The Klamath settlement process was originally intended as a forum for negotiations with PacifiCorp over the removal of the lower four dams on the Klamath River. However, far from removing dams, the current deal instead decides how different special interests will split up the proposed $1 billion settlement fund. The section in the settlement agreement dealing with dam removal is a blank page.

Where is the compromise?

Representatives for the Klamath Irrigation Project have said that the “settlement” has staked out a huge amount of common ground. It is easy to see why they support the agreement. With the help of the Bush administration, irrigators secured an ironclad guarantee of generous water deliveries that take priority over the rights of Native American Tribes, science and the needs of endangered species.

That isn’t common ground, and it is not a compromise. Oregon Wild and other conservation groups are more than willing to support a plan to ensure agriculture in the Klamath Basin receives a predictable and sustainable supply of water, but we can’t support forcing fish and wildlife to bear all the risks for future droughts.

Will fish get the water they need to survive?

No. The settlement’s one-sided water plan calls for guaranteed minimum water deliveries for the Klamath Irrigation Project while providing no guarantees for salmon. Two independent scientific analyses of the settlement agreement have already found that it is unlikely to provide enough water to recover salmon runs."

Get the Story:
Steve Pedery: Tough questions for the Klamath settlement (The Salem Statesman Journal 2/25)

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Editorial: Peace treaty for Klamath River basin (1/28)
Editorial: Deal brings hope to Klamath basin (1/21)
Deal calls for removal of Klamath Basin dams (1/16)
Karuk Tribe: Remove dams on Klamath River (7/10)
Cheney intervened in Klamath water dispute (06/27)
Column: White House politicking at DOI (6/21)