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Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, left, signed the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement at a ceremony in Klamath, Calif., in April 2016. Jewell was joined by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, right, and a host of tribal, state and federal leaders.

Department of Interior officials on Monday emphasized a neutral stance on dam removal along the Klamath River.

Secretary of the Department of Interior David Bernhardt wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) stating that a support letter written by former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was outside the scope of the Department of Interior.

“Accordingly, I hereby withdraw the 2016 letter as unnecessary to the current proceedings before FERC,” Bernhardt wrote in a letter obtained by H&N. “The Department of the Interior will continue to engage in relevant parties and stakeholders on these and related Klamath Basin issues.”

Jewell wrote a three-page letter to Katherine Bose, secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner in October 2016, supporting the removal of dams along the Klamath River.

Jewell penned her support of the applications for dam removal submitted to FERC by PacifiCorp and the Klamath River Renewal Commission (KRRC), and urged the commission to approve them. She called the submission a “critical step” toward resolving significant water-related issues in the Klamath Basin. She also attached a 29-page enclosure with the support letter, detailing the summary of findings informing her perspective. The full document can be found with this story at www.heraldandnews.com.

Alan Mikkelsen, adviser to the Secretary of Interior on water and western resources, on Monday provided H&N with a statement on the withdrawal of Jewell’s letter.

“We have consistently emphasized that Interior has no position, nor any decision point in regards to dam removal,” Mikkelsen said, in an emailed statement. “Dam removal has been and remains a FERC issue. Interior will continue to engage with all relevant parties in the Klamath Basin as necessary to the management responsibilities Interior has in the Basin and will also continue to encourage parties to engage in basin-wide discussions to resolve the resource conflicts within the Klamath Basin. We will continue to do what we can to help facilitate those discussions.”