Klamath agreements draft legislation surfaces

By David Smith
Siskiyou Daily News 
April 9, 2010

Yreka, Calif. — The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), documents that set forth a plan for possible removal of four dams along the Klamath River and a 50-year restoration plan for the basin, require corresponding legislation to be enacted in order to go into effect, and a version of the legislation was recently leaked and has found its way to the public.

The Web site KlamBlog featured a copy of the draft legislation, which has no identified author, and it was also referenced at a recent meeting of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors in which the board voted to reject both agreements.

The draft of the legislation, which is subject to change, is dated March 9, and has as the suggested title “The Klamath Basin Act of 2010,” split into sections pertaining to the KBRA and KHSA.

Contained within the draft is the authorization for the secretaries of the Interior, Commerce and Agriculture to execute the KBRA and any amendments made by the parties by the date of enactment of the legislation and any amendments “the Secretaries determine are necessary to make [the] Restoration Agreement consistent” with the legislation.

The legislation as a whole would authorize a number of the facets of the agreements, including the appropriation of monies for the implementation of the KBRA, including $991,724,900 for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2012, with appropriations into accounts set forth in the KBRA. These accounts are titled the “On-Project Plan and Power for Water Management Fund,” the “Water Use Retirement Fund and Off-Project Reliance Fund” and the “Klamath Drought Fund.” According to the draft, monies deposited into those funds would be from the appropriation and any donated funds.

The legislation would also authorize other appropriations for implementation activities “as are necessary to implement and complete the programs and projects of the Restoration Agreement.”

The draft also sets forth a plan for the disposition of net revenues from leased lands in the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges, which occurs as part of a 1964 law called the Kuchel Act.

Of the revenues collected, 10 percent of those collected within the boundaries of the Tulelake Irrigation District (TID) would go to the TID as per contractual obligations.

The revenue would also be split among a variety of groups and areas, including the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for wildlife management purposes on the refuges and the Klamath Drainage District to fulfill water delivery obligations. The revenues would also be used to fulfill the federal government’s obligations under Public Law 88-567 to pay counties in lieu of taxes for refuge lands within their boundaries.

Leftover revenue, if any, would go toward operation and maintenance costs of Link River and Keno dams incurred by the United States and then to “future capital costs of the Klamath Reclamation Project.”

The draft sets forth the relinquishing and release of certain claims against the federal government filed by the Yurok and Karuk tribes, as enumerated in the KBRA. The claims in question are those resulting from water management decisions or actions affecting the tribes’ water or water rights that “relate to damages, losses, or injuries to water, water rights, land, or natural resources due to loss of water or water rights.”

Other claims relinquished by the Yurok and Karuk tribes would be those relating to litigation in certain cases in Oregon and any claims relating to actions under the KBRA and KHSA.

In the KBRA section, the draft states that nothing in the legislation “supersedes, modifies or otherwise affects” the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Federal Land Policy and Mangement Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act or the Kuchel Act.

For the KHSA, the draft states that nothing in the legislation supersedes, modifies or affects NEPA, ESA or CWA, except as provided in two sections in the draft relating to obligations of the entity responsible for dam removal if it is to occur.

The sections state, “Facilities removal shall be subject to applicable requirements of State and local laws respecting permits and other authorizations, to the extent such requirements are consistent with the Secretarial determination and the detailed plan (including the schedule for facilities removal).”

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors has, in the past, taken issue with the concept of the dam removal plan possibly bypassing county ordinances that may stall the process.

The draft also sets forth authorization for the transfer of the dams from owner PacifiCorp to the federal government, judicial review of the determination of whether or not the dams will be removed, the contract allowing PacifiCorp to continue generating power until the removal of the dams begins and the relicensing of the dams in the event that the KHSA terminates, among other aspects of the the two agreements.

At the April 6 meeting of the board of supervisors, County Counsel Thomas Guarino noted that with the legislation still in committee, there may be a number of changes to the document put to vote.


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