by Katy Grimes, E&E Legal Senior Media Fellow and California Globe Editor
As Appearing in the California Globe

‘They purposefully made a disaster and are leaving taxpayers and the locals to clean up their mess’

The removal of dams along the Klamath River in Siskiyou County, Northern California was sold as necessary to save salmon – specifically, “to restore habitat for endangered fish.”

The dams are part of the Klamath project, a series of seven dams built in the 1910’s and 1920’s in the Klamath Basin to bring electricity and agricultural water mitigation for Southern Oregon and Northern California, the Globe reported in 2020. However, in recent years, concerns over the dams’ effect on the wildlife and fishing industry have been raised, especially regarding claims of fish facing extinction because the dams.

In 2018, plans were released to destroy the dam system. However, those plans halted in 2019 because of data errors and issues over who owns the dams. The Bureau of Reclamation swiftly issued a study on the dams’ effects through 2024, leading to California to again push for destruction of the dams.

In June 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee halted plans again, ruling that PacificCorp, an Oregon utility company owned by Warren Buffett’s Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway, would have to transfer it’s hydroelectric license and co-licensee with the Klamath River Renewal Corp., as well as pay $250 million toward getting out of the demolition project to avoid any liabilities around the demolition.

Governor Newsom implored Buffett to back the demolition project to save the salmon populations that Native American tribes in the area rely on. “The river is sick, and the Klamath Basin tribes are suffering,” said Newsom in his letter. “The Klamath dam removals are a shining example of what we can accomplish when we act according to our values.”

Many tribes also issued a joint letter with Governor Newsom in support of the dams destruction.

Read more.