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klamath river

The Klamath River near Humbug Creek. Dams upstream from here cause toxic algal blooms, cut off hundreds of miles of spawning habitat for salmon and cause outbreaks of the salmon disease C. shasta.

Tribal members, fishermen and environmental justice organizations will hold a day of action for dam removal on the Klamath River this Friday, demanding that Warren Buffet, billionaire owner of PacifiCorp and its parent company Berkshire Hathaway, allow the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement to move forward.

The dam removal effort has been in limbo since July, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said PacifiCorp must remain a co-licensee for four Klamath River dams along with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which will carry out the actual removal. The KHSA had outlined a full transfer of the license from PacifiCorp to KRRC, causing the utility to reopen negotiations with the agreement’s other signatories.

PacifiCorp has expressed concern that moving forward as a co-licensee would make them liable for additional costs associated with the dam removal beyond the $200 million they have already raised through ratepayer surcharges in Oregon and California, though they have not specified publicly which aspects of the project raise those concerns. California’s legislature has set aside an additional $250 million in bonds for the project.

Annelia Hillman, a Yurok Tribal member with the Klamath Justice Coalition, said PacifiCorp is intentionally stalling the dam removal process, causing the river’s health and salmon populations to continue declining.

“They have an opportunity to set an example for how corporate America should treat communities of color and Native tribes,” Hillman said. “Instead they seem determined to destroy salmon, communities and economies at the expense of their own customers.”

According to a news release from Save California Salmon, the day of action will include a flood of social media posts across all channels using the hashtag “#UnDamtheKlamath” and physical actions in several cities across the country, including Klamath, Calif., Seattle, Portland, Washington D.C., San Diego, and Buffett’s hometown of Omaha, Neb. Activists will also lead educational sessions on water and environmental justice and attempt to block Berkshire Hathaway from making business deals in those cities.

“Tribal members are not going to allow corporate America to break agreements and contracts with our people in the same manner as the United States has with treaties,” said Thomas Joseph, a Hoopa Valley Tribal member who will be driving to Omaha to rally with Nebraska Tribes. “Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway have agreed to these dam removals and they must keep their word.”