Rep. Huffman applauds pact between Feds, California, Oregon and PacifiCorp to remove Klamath River dams in 2020

February 02, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) welcomed the release today of a key agreement between the federal government, California and Oregon, and power company PacifiCorp which is expected to lead to the historic removal of four dams on the Klamath River.

“This agreement is a reflection of all the hard work done by tribal, fishing and environmental communities who have long fought to tear down these dams and bring the Klamath River back to life,” said Rep. Huffman, who represents the North Coast of California including the Lower Klamath River basin. “I am committed to working with the people of the Klamath basin, the state and federal governments, and PacifiCorp toward rebuilding the once-famous salmon and steelhead runs of one of the West Coast’s most iconic rivers.”

The new pact will let the parties work through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process to remove the dam by 2020. It calls for modifying the Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement (KHSA), which was brokered after years of negotiation. A companion agreement, the Klamath Basin Restoration Act, expired at the end of 2015 after Republican congressional leadership in the House failed to introduce legislation to support the deals.

Huffman has long supported the effort to restore the Klamath River, and has worked with the state and federal agencies to support a path around the congressional roadblock. The U.S. Department of the Interior also indicated today that it, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the states of California and Oregon will work on a comprehensive restoration plan for the basin to recover fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to Klamath tribes and sustain farming and ranching.

Today, Huffman further announced support for the new agreement from the Yurok Tribe, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and the Karuk Tribe, as well as the support of Humboldt County and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and he called for California tribes, Humboldt County, fishermen, and environmental groups to be fully involved in any such future agreements. 

"We are excited to see these parties' continued commitment to remove the Klamath dams in 2020," said Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Lovelace. "The ability to come to this agreement is the outcome of the KBRA, KHSA, and years of negotiations in the Klamath basin."

"The Yurok Tribe is pleased that PacifiCorp, the Department of Interior, Oregon, and California are committed to dam removal on the Klamath River by 2020 through an amended KHSA and the FERC process,” said Yurok Tribal Chairman James Dunlap. “Dam removal is the most critical component of fisheries restoration on the Klamath River. We support this effort and look forward to contributing our technical expertise to the process."

“Removal of the lower four Klamath River Dams would be the single greatest salmon restoration action in U.S. history,” said Leaf Hillman, a Karuk tribal member and director of the Karuk Department of Natural Resources. “We hoped to implement a more ambitious plan to resolve Klamath water disputes between fishing and farming communities but Congressional Republicans blocked our efforts. This Agreement in Principle lays out a strategy that does not require congressional approval or any federal funding.”

"The Hoopa Valley Tribe is pleased to see that the main parties agree with the Tribe’s long-held view that dam removal should move forward separately from the other Basin issues that have created controversy in Congress,” said Hoopa Valley Tribe Chairman Ryan Jackson. “The available funding and environmental work creates an opportunity for the administration and the states to dramatically help the river.”

“This agreement in principle is a roadmap for solving some of the problems in the Klamath Basin but by no means all of them,” Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association Northwest Regional Director Glen Spain. “Many of the problems can only be solved by congressional action. “We hope that congress will see the urgent need to move forward, but in the meantime the problems remain and solutions must be found in other ways.”

Congressman Huffman has been very active on pushing for congressional action on the Klamath settlement. You can read more about his work here.

Huffman represents California's second congressional district in the House, and serves as the Ranking Democrat on the Water, Power, and Oceans subcommittee.