Thursday, September 24, 2020

House Passes Huffman Amendment on Klamath Dams

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 4:01 PM

click to enlarge North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, shortly before the signing of an agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, shortly before the signing of an agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which included the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement Tribal Fairness amendment, led by North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman.

The amendment aims to safeguard Tribal communities against further harm to the Klamath River and its ecosystem and to remediate existing problems in the Klamath River basin and downstream communities caused by four aging dams owned by PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

In July, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that PacifiCorp could not simply hand-off the dams to a nonprofit created to remove them and wanted to renegotiate the terms of the agreement of the removal of the dams, putting a halt to a four-year battle to get the dams removed.

According to the release, "if PacifiCorp turns its back on the negotiated agreement to remove the dams, the amendment would impose new relicensing conditions for the dam owner, including a requirement that the dams comply with state and tribal recommendations to reduce harm to fisheries, as well as numerous public disclosures related to water pollution, fish recovery, dam safety, and the facility’s financial status."

Huffman said the amendment sends a "very clear message" to PacifiCorp.

“PacifiCorp should not expect automatic annual licenses for these dams that harm tribal fisheries and downstream water quality: they will be held responsible for the needs of the tribes and of the states of Oregon and California, and they will have to regularly report to the public on the dams’ serious negative impacts," he said in the release.

The amendment's approval comes after an Aug. 18 virtual forum led by Huffman about the impacts of the Klamath Dams on tribes, fisheries, the environment and downstream stakeholders.

Read the full press release below.


Huffman Tribal Fairness Amendment Passes as Part of Clean Energy Package

Legislation Holds Warren Buffett’s PacifiCorp Accountable for Impacts of Disastrous Klamath Dams

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which included the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement Tribal Fairness amendment, led by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael). The amendment is designed to safeguard Tribal communities against further harm to the Klamath River and its ecosystem and remediate existing problems in the Klamath River basin and downstream communities caused by four aging dams owned by PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. If PacifiCorp turns its back on the negotiated agreement to remove the dams, the Huffman amendment would impose new relicensing conditions for the dam owner, including a requirement that the dams comply with state and tribal recommendations to reduce harm to fisheries, as well as numerous public disclosures related to water pollution, fish recovery, dam safety, and the facility’s financial status.

“By approving the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement Tribal Fairness amendment today, the House has sent a very clear message to PacifiCorp that we will no longer accept business as usual with their destructive Klamath River dams,” said Rep. Huffman. “PacifiCorp should not expect automatic annual licenses for these dams that harm tribal fisheries and downstream water quality: they will be held responsible for the needs of the tribes and of the states of Oregon and California, and they will have to regularly report to the public on the dams’ serious negative impacts. PacifiCorp has previously agreed to do the right thing for the people of the Klamath River and for their customers and shareholders. Every moment that they delay the KHSA results in the worsening health of Klamath River communities and tribes, and Congress will not support that ongoing injustice.”

This bill follows an investigative forum led by Rep. Huffman earlier this year to highlight the environmental, economic, and community impacts caused by the Klamath River dams. Local stakeholders have called PacifiCorp and parent company Berkshire Hathaway to come to an agreement over the past decade. Although past agreements have seemed promising, PacifiCorp’s latest attempts to stall prompted Rep. Huffman to take legislative action.

Earlier this month, the Yurok Tribal Council Chairperson Joseph L. James sent this letter of support for the amendment on behalf of the Yurok Tribe. The Yurok have depended on the Klamath River for generations and have been disproportionally impacted by the damage from PacifiCorp’s dams.

The amendment advanced as part of the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which Rep. Huffman supported as a down payment on the comprehensive action needed to fully tackle the climate crisis.  As a clean energy innovation bill, it includes programs to develop and deploy renewable and distributed energy resources; improve the efficiency of our homes and businesses; electrify our transportation sector; modernize the grid and enhance its resiliency; prioritize the needs of environmental justice communities; reduce carbon pollution from industrial and traditional sources. Unfortunately, aspects of the bill also included support for carbon capture sequestration that could extend the life of dirty fossil fuel power plants, a false promise that perpetuates our dependence on fossil fuels. Rep. Huffman is committed to ensuring that these bad ideas are finally laid to rest in a future administration.

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Iridian Casarez

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Iridian Casarez is a staff writer at the North Coast Journal.

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