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Sen. Murkowski’s Statement on Klamath Basin Restoration Bill



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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following statement on consideration of the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act (S. 2379) by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:

“I support the changes included within the substitute.  I want to thank Sens. Merkley and Wyden and their staffs for working with my staff to address our concerns. It has been a very good process.

“The primary concern when this bill was originally drafted would have taken the unprecedented step of putting  the federal government – in this case the Department of Interior – in charge of determining whether  four dams on the Klamath River should be removed and, if so, what entity should be responsible for removing them.

“The joint staff substitute ensures that the states of California and Oregon are empowered to decide, and they work with DOI on this, but it truly does have that state involvement.

“The substitute also greatly increases the transparency and accountability with respect to the federal government’s action under the Klamath agreements by requiring a series of reports to Congress regarding the dam removal decision making process and the development of performance measures to gauge the extent to which promised benefits made under the agreement are actually being achieved. So, you have transparency, you have accountability, you have the state’s involvement, not just the Department of Interior. Again, I think we’ve made some good progress to address some decades-long problems that have faced the region.

“I will say, though, that there are still significant concerns that many have. One is the issue of dam removal – especially where the federal government is the sole decision-maker – is of great concern to me, as it is to many of my colleagues and our friends in the House. By giving the affected States an equal say, the amendment mitigates this concern but does not fully address it.

“There is another issue, and that is the estimated $500 million in needed funds over the next ten years called for under the agreement would come from. I can tell you from my perspective as an appropriator; we don’t exactly have an extra $50 million per year lying around under the seat cushions in my office.

“I look forward to continuing to work with interested parties on both sides of the Capitol to address these areas of concern.”

Video of Murkowski’s comments is available here. Full archived video of today’s business meeting is available on the energy panel’s website.

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