Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

 Senator Doug Whitsett
Oregon State Capitol
900 Court Street NE, S-302
Salem, Oregon 97310
June 2, 2005 
Senator Whitsett Sets the Record Straight with ONRC
followed by ONRC propaganda

Salem –On Thursday Senator Doug Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls) responded to what he described as
false statements laid out in a press release by the Oregon Natural Resources Council regarding Senate
Bill 81. An amendment to the bill which is supported by Whitsett provides rate mitigation to Klamath
Irrigators who face rate increases of up to 2000 percent if action is not taken.
“I am willing and able to have a vigorous debate on the wisdom of certain policy options,” says
Senator Whitsett. “What I am not willing to do is sit quietly while the ONRC makes up facts and
spreads falsehoods about the hardworking men and women of the Klamath Basin who make their
livelihood in agriculture.”

The following is a list of the accusations made by the ONRC as well as the actual facts of the situation
in the Klamath Basin.

• Fallacy: Fish Kills have a direct relationship to the Klamath Farmers.
• Truth: National Academy of Sciences determination says the two are unrelated.

• Fallacy: This is an “antiquated electric power subsidy.”
• Truth: This is a power contract based on mutual benefits between the Basin farmers and
Pacific Power last negotiated in 1956. There would be less water flowing down the Klamath
River or behind the dams seasonally if BOR and farmers hadn’t developed the Klamath

• Fallacy: the Klamath Project and irrigators of the Basin are “wasting” water and can become
more efficient.
• Truth: The Klamath Project irrigators are 93% efficient at the present time, as determined by
studies by the Bureau of Reclamation. It is one of the single most efficient irrigation systems in the US

• Fallacy: Oregon rate payers will subsidize Klamath Farmers.
• Truth: Oregon electric rate payers have been benefiting from, and will continue to benefit
from cheap power rates due to the water provided for in stream flows down the Klamath.
Without the water provided by the Klamath irrigators to these hydro electric dams to operate,
power would be more expensive and less available to the general public.

• Fallacy: This is a “secret tax” on Oregon families.
• Truth: This is a negotiated contract of 99 years duration and is in the public record. It is not

• Fallacy: SB 81 is a raw deal for the environment.
• Truth: SB 81 provides continuing unheralded benefits for the environment through the
National Wildlife Refuges and for the myriad of wildlife existing in the irrigated areas of the
Basin. In 2001, when irrigation was cut off to the Basin, the impact on wildlife was
profoundly devastating. This is a high desert area and without the irrigation water provided,
hundreds of species will suffer irreparable harm.

• Fallacy: SB 81 is unfair.
• Truth: SB 81 is fair to PPL rate payers, by providing more and cheaper power
than if no water flowed down the Klamath. It is fair because it is a negotiated legal contract. It
is fair because it provides adequate water for wildlife. It is fair because it is publicly disclosed.
It is fair because the Klamath irrigators have utilized a maximum efficiency of 97% water
usage in their system and cannot improve the system, according to the best scientific analysis
in the world.

You can view the ONRC release at the following site: http://www.onrc.org/alerts/221.klamath.html

Oppose the Secret Klamath Tax on Oregon Families!

Oregon legislature considers bill to subsidize wasteful Klamath water use and force Oregon families to pick up the tab

ONRC Alert #221 - May 31, 2005

What do your electricity bill and Klamath fish kills have in common? If you are a Pacific Power (PacifiCorp) customer, you are spending MORE on your monthly bill so that special interests in the Klamath Basin can pay 1/16th of market rates for the electricity used to pump water from area lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Thanks to an antiquated electric power subsidy, Klamath agribusiness has not experienced a rate increase since 1917. When water is free and the electricity with which to pump it costs next to nothing, where is the incentive to conserve either resource?

The good news is that this sweetheart electricity deal is set to expire next year. Without the current $10 million annual subsidy from PacifiCorp's ratepayers and shareholders, the free market would encourage Klamath agribusiness to use water more efficiently, reduce waste, and begin paying the same rates for electricity as every other farmer in Oregon.

The bad news is that Klamath agribusiness is flexing its political muscle in the Oregon state legislature and pushing a stealth bill that would extend this sweetheart deal. Their legislation (amendments to Senate Bill 81) never actually mentions the Klamath or the sweetheart deal. Instead it attempts to masquerade as a consumer protection measure. Hidden in the bill is language that makes certain this scheme applies only to Klamath irrigators. The bill caps the amount that their electric bills can be increased at 50% per year thus ensuring that Oregon families will continue to subsidize Klamath agribusiness for approximately seven more years at a cost of $20 million!

TAKE ACTION: Please take a few moments to both call and email the leaders of the Oregon State Senate (Senators Peter Courtney and Kate Brown) and urge them to oppose the House amendments to Senate Bill 81! Tell them:

  • The legislature should not impose a secret tax on Oregon families! When Oregon is struggling to fund education and health care, it makes no sense for the legislature to force families to spend more on their monthly electricity bills in order to allow Klamath agribusiness interests to avoid paying free market rates for another seven years.
  • SB 81 is a raw deal for the environment. The sweetheart Klamath electricity deal is a major factor in the region's water crisis and ongoing fish kills. The Oregon legislature shouldn't force families all across to the state to subsidize wasteful and inefficient water use in the Klamath Basin.
  • SB 81 is not fair. There is no reason why Klamath agribusiness interests should pay a fraction of what farmers in the Rogue, Deschutes, or Willamette River Basins do for electricity.









Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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