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Interior Department Pulls Support Letter From Klamath Dam Removal Project

Bobjgalindo via Wikimedia Commons
The J.C.Boyle dam, one of four dams on theKlamath River being considered for removal.

The Trump Administration has withdrawn the previous administration’s support for the removal of four dams on the Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California. 

Recently-appointed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has rescinded a letter of support that Obama-era Interior Secretary Sally Jewell wrote in 2016. Jewell’s letter threw the agency’s weight behind the plan to take out four Klamath River dams to help threatened salmon and other fish.

Matt Cox is with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit formed to implement the dam removal agreement. He says rescinding Jewell’s letter has no legal effect.

"That letter was not a requirement of that agreement.," he says, "so withdrawing that letter certainly has no material effect on the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement or the project moving forward."

Republican Representative Doug LaMalfa of California’s First Congressional District concedes that point.

"But it shows the momentum is against this dam removal instead of the rush to judgement back when Sally Jewell put it through," he says.

LaMalfa expects taxpayers to get stuck with the tab for a dam removal project he believes will cost more than the available funds and that he says won’t help fish, anyway.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Water Board are currently weighing several permit applications crucial to completing the dam removal project.

Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.