05.01.2012 2

Maybe it’s time we dam up government interference in the economy

Dam up GovernmentBy Rebekah Rast — You give them an inch and they’ll just keep fighting for more inches, says Steve Cheyne, a local Klamath River farmer and board member of the Bucket Brigade.

He is referring to the many environmentalists and government agencies pushing for restoration of the Klamath River in Oregon and also for the removal of four dams within the river.  Once publicized by environmentalists as the Everglades of the West, Klamath River has been a lawsuit hotspot since the 1960s, if not before.

Water in Klamath River is heavily in demand — by farmers, fisherman, ranchers, tribes, and of course, fish. Everyone wants more water and as fighting over water rights worsens an agreement needs to be reached.

The problem is the U.S. Department of Interior would like to make the decision for the people who live off the water of the Klamath River— instead of the citizens themselves coming to their own agreement.

Like his Bucket Brigade group, Cheyne is not supportive of the current Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, but he does acknowledge that it is a good first step to fixing the water issues.  However, he is very much opposed to the part in the agreement that proposes the removal of four hydro dams in the river — a part that the U.S. government heavily favors.

Government agencies, as well as environmentalists, are hoping the removal of the dams will result in more salmon runs upstream.  The Klamath Restoration Agreement website states, “Dam removal will essentially re-open over 600 miles of historic river and stream habitat for salmon, steelhead, and other fish species.”

However, as Cheyne puts it, “How do we measure success? If we get salmon upstream, is that a success? There’s just not enough information.  We have no idea what is normal activity for salmon runs; we need to set some goals.  It’s like driving in your rearview mirror and not looking at what’s coming ahead.”

But government science out of the Bureau of Reclamation touts the positives of dam removal and the beneficial impact it will have on the river and those who depend on its water.  However, this dam removal agenda was made clear long before any scientific analysis  was done.

One scientist who was tasked with reviewing the government’s science is Paul Houser, an associate professor at George Mason University, in Virginia. In September of 2011 he was asked to review a press release and scientific summary from the Bureau of Reclamation, which highlighted the impact of the removal of the four dams from the Klamath River.

“It was quite biased,” Houser told Americans for Limited Government (ALG) in a recent video interview.  “It came up with conclusions that were one-sided, that were focused on really the positives of dam removal.  But it didn’t tell the whole story about the risks and the uncertainties of dam removal.”

When Houser gave his boss his review of the material, the retaliation began and in February 2012, his position was terminated.

Houser filed integrity allegations against his government department.  “My boss told me after I made my disclosure that we really should be supporting the secretary and the secretary wants to remove the dams,”  Houser noted.  “He [the Department of Interior Secretary] already made that decision prior to the science being funded and so the science was really being funded just to support dam removal.”

It is this kind of agenda-driven science that appeases a few and ruins the livelihoods, resources and futures of many.

While the people of Klamath River sort out an agreement on water usage, Cheyne would like the government to get out of the way. “We need federal congressional representatives to say, ‘We need to let their people that live there fix their own problems and those who live across the country, shut the hell up.’ ”

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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