Wyden, Merkley Statement on Interior Department’s Support of Klamath River Dam Removal

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today issued the following statement after news that Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell will formally support the applications for removal of four dams along the Klamath River, another crucial step toward addressing water issues affecting the region:

“Today’s letter from Secretary Jewell is a welcome move in maintaining the momentum around all parts of a workable Klamath River Basin resolution. The Interior Department’s support is critical to allowing the administrative process of dam removal along the Klamath River to move forward. As Secretary Jewell recognizes in her letter, this iconic river provides critical habitat for threatened salmon species, crucial water supply for farmers and ranchers, and has been hallowed ground for the Klamath Tribes and other tribes since before recorded history.

“The work done by the Klamath Basin stakeholders remains unprecedented in the commitment of all sides to compromise and continue working toward a solution for the Klamath Basin community. There are still outstanding issues Congress must act on, to give farmers and ranchers a reliable water supply for their crops and livestock, to complete the long-awaited return of land to the Klamath Tribes, and to ensure healthy river flows for fish habitats. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to move this process forward.”

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Jewell wrote that the supporting science, unique circumstances and cooperation in the Klamath Basin are reasons why FERC should approve the removal of four hydroelectric dams operated by PacifiCorp and Klamath River Renewal Corporation. In September, PacifiCorp and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation filed applications to transfer, decommission, and remove the four Klamath River dams.

In April, the governors of Oregon and California, along with the Department of the Interior, announced they would form a private entity to remove the Klamath River Basin dams by an administrative process through FERC. 

In a signing ceremony that included Oregon Governor Kate Brown, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Secretary Jewell, along with tribal leaders, farmers and other stakeholders, the state and federal agency leaders announced they have also agreed to take steps to protect the needs of irrigators in the Keno Dam and Link River Dam, which are not among the four on the list of dams that will be removed.

Read the Interior Department’s letter here