American Rivers applauds Oregon and California, tribes, PacifiCorp for river restoration leadership

November 17, 2020

Announcement ensures dam removal on Klamath River will proceed

November 17, 2020

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

American Rivers today applauded the Karuk and Yurok tribes, the states of Oregon and California, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) and Berkshire Hathaway for announcing an agreement that ensures dam removal on the Klamath River will proceed.

A recent ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) created uncertainty when it required dam owner PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, to remain as a co-licensee. Now, Oregon and California will submit a request to FERC to join KRRC as co-licensees, allowing PacifiCorp to relinquish its license. KRRC will manage the dam removal project. Pre-construction activities are scheduled to begin in 2022, with dam demolition beginning in early 2023.

Bob Irvin, President and CEO of American Rivers, made the following statement:

“Today’s announcement keeps this critical river restoration effort on track, which will revitalize salmon runs, restore clean water and river health, and begin to heal decades of harm to the basin’s Indigenous Peoples. It will be the biggest dam removal project the world has ever seen.”

“We applaud Governor Gavin Newsom and Governor Kate Brown for their commitment to restoring the Klamath River and we are grateful for the leadership of the Karuk, Yurok and Klamath tribes in getting us to today’s milestone. We are thankful to PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway for working on a solution that benefits all parties.”

“The governors’ action underscores the importance of a healthy, free-flowing Klamath River to the communities, economy and future of Oregon and California. Dam removal is in the best interest of local communities and PacifiCorp ratepayers. It’s time to make it happen and bring this river back to life.”

The four dams – Copco 1, Copco 2, Iron Gate and JC Boyle block habitat and have devastated salmon populations. The reservoirs behind the dams encourage growth of algae that is toxic to people, pets and wildlife. Removing the dams will restore salmon access to more than 400 miles of habitat, improve water quality and strengthen local communities that rely on salmon for their economy and culture.

The dams provide no drinking water supply or irrigation. PacifiCorp agreed to dam removal in 2016 because the dams’ costs outweighed their benefits. Power from the dams will be replaced using renewables and efficiency measures, without contributing to climate change. In 2008, the Public Utilities Commissions in Oregon and California concluded that removing the dams, (instead of spending more than $500 million to bring the dams up to modern standards), would save PacifiCorp customers more than $100 million.

KRRC expects dam deconstruction and river restoration to create several hundred jobs in the Klamath Basin. Klamath salmon support commercial fisheries worth $150 million per year and the recreation industry contributes millions to the local Klamath Basin economy, according to KRRC.

More than 1,700 dams have been removed nationwide, according to the database maintained by American Rivers.