Bring the Salmon Home
Momentum Builds to Remove Klamath Dams
Like a river to the sea an undammed river, that is the campaign to remove four dams from the Klamath River keeps rolling along. Friends of the River will be rolling along, too, on our way to Omaha, Nebraska.
The boat will greet Warren Buffet at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting on May 5. We want him to know that one of his subsidiaries Pacificorp faces a simple, economic decision: Remove its dams from the Klamath River because not only is it the right thing to do, but also it can save money. Tearing down the dams will be much cheaper than building fish ladders, which the federal government is now requiring. We reckon Warren will understand the benefits of tearing down the dams: save money, restore the river, revive the salmon population, and support the fishing industry, towns, and tribes who all depend on the Klamath salmon.
The complex of dams comprising the Klamath hydroelectric project have blocked salmon and steelhead from migrating to their historic habitat in the upper Klamath River for more than 80 years. Klamath salmon have been on the decline for decades, and they have recently suffered a fish kill and three years of historically low spawning returns. The situation last year was so dire that federal agencies drastically curtailed the commercial salmon fishing season for fear that fishing could bring Klamath salmon to the brink of extinction.
The terms and conditions remaining as strong as they are is a great win for environmental groups, tribes, and fishermen who have long encouraged the federal agencies. After submitting preliminary terms and conditions in March 2006, PacifiCorp, the dams’ owner, challenged the agencies under two provisions of the Energy Bill allowing first a trial-type hearing and then the opportunity for PacifiCorp to submit alternative conditions for consideration by a high-level political appointee. PacifiCorp lost in both venues.
Now that the terms and conditions are final, FERC is required to include them in a new license. The cost of adding ladders and screens to the dams is estimated to be upwards of $400 million, whereas the cost to remove the dams is estimated to be $280 million.
The tribes have sent letters to Warren Buffett requesting a meeting but never received a reply. They hope the sight of fisherment and tribal members in urban Omaha will bring their plight to the attention of Warren and open the door to discussions, similar to those they had with former PacifiCorp owner Scottish Power. “For all of Scottish Power’s faults,” says Craig Tucker of the Karuk Tribe, “at least they were willing to meet with the tribes to discuss their concerns. We have not received the same courtesy from Berkshire Hathaway.”