In ‘momentous’ act, regulators approve demolition of four Klamath River dams
Posted on Aug 11, 2018
By RICHARD TAYLOR
The Oregon Department of Energy and Environmental Quality has announced the approval of a “momentous” proposal for four dams on the Klamath River, whose operators want to demolish the dams in order to allow the waterway to flow below a minimum threshold until its flow is restored.
The plans for the four dams in the Klamath River Basin would be subject to the review and approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees electricity markets under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that includes seven commissioners.
The commission has not approved permits for the four dams, based on a July 13 public comment filed in support of the demolition plans.
When the commission’s staff first issued its statement in support of the approval of the project that would demolish the dams, Energy Commissioner Dave Sosnoski wrote that the FERC had previously approved and continued to approve project permit approvals on other projects that would have the same effect, based on a July 9 letter from the commission to Klamath Power that said, “We will continue to review any permit applications filed in 2014.”
The state’s environmental quality director said the commission’s approval of the project was necessary because the dams were on the verge of collapse, and that the department approved the project because the commission’s staff had previously approved that project.
Environmental Director Mike Lindquist said the department also approved the project because the commission had approved the project before the state’s environmental quality department issued its draft report on the project. The draft report did not mention the 4 dams, but said they were dangerous and had significant impact on the environment.
“[The draft report] was just a draft to be submitted to the Commission,” Lindquist said. “The department had the opportunity and chose to approve the project because it had already been approved by the Commission, even though the draft didn’t say anything about any of the dams or their potential impacts.”
The dams are part of a proposed route for a planned new Klamath River diversion, which would divert the main stem of the Klamath River to a newly created channel that would bypass the current dams.