Resources Committee to hold ESA Hearing on The Klamath Project
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June 21, 2004
Contact: Brian Kennedy, 202-226-9019
Washington, D.C. - House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) announced today that the Committee will hold a field hearing in Klamath Falls, Oregon on the Endangered Species Act.
The hearing, to be held at 9:00 a.m. (PST) on July 17 at the Ross Reglund Theatre in downtown Klamath Falls, will cover the Endangered Species Actís impact on the Klamath Project, one of the nationís oldest federal irrigation projects.
The Klamath Project was the subject of international coverage in 2001 when Endangered Species Act regulations protecting sucker fish and coho salmon forced the bulk of the project to virtually shut down its water delivery system for almost the entire growing season.
Local business leaders estimate that the termination of water deliveries in 2001 inflicted $200 million worth of economic damage on the Klamath Basin community.
Although federal and state efforts have focused on resolving the situation, the Klamath project was nearly shut down [again] last summer because of Endangered Species Act requirements.
Klamath irrigators face another dry summer this year, prompting many worries of another devastating irrigation water cut-off.
Meanwhile, a National Research Council Report last year questioned some of the underlying endangered species science behind the 2001 shut down.
Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-CA), Chairman, Committee on Resources:
"The water shut-off in the Klamath Basin is a dramatic example of how, after 30 years, the Endangered Species Act has failed the species it was designed to recover. Unintended consequences have devastated communities. We must find a sound and balanced approach, one that conserves species while caring for our local communities as well. This hearing is specifically designed to discuss the abuse of this law and to find a scientific solution to updating and improving the ESA so that further generations will not have to suffer as the Klamath farmers have."
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), Chairman, Subcommittee on Water and Power:
"We owe the American people the very best scientific answers when it comes to balancing human water needs with endangered species protection. Time and again, we have found that the Endangered Species Act needs to be updated to both improve species protection and provide needed water to our farmers and cities. When the science has been questioned by a team of independent, qualified biologists and that two conflicting species regulations continue to provide environmental and water use uncertainty in the Klamath basin, itís our duty to help provide the roadmap to resolution and this hearing will help accomplish that."
Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Chairman, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health:
"Time and time again we have seen how the use of questionable science in the implementation of the Endangered Species Act has thrown communities like the Klamath Basin into economic upheaval with no benefit to the threatened species. During next month's hearing we will examine the National Academy of Sciences final report that repudiated the scientific justification behind the 2001 water shut-off. Hopefully by studying the Klamath Basin water crisis and similar situations across the United States, we can develop a blueprint for making common sense improvements to the ESA that benefit both species and property owners."
Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA):
"The Klamath basin farmers have suffered long enough at the hands of bad science and an inflexible Endangered Species Act (ESA). We look forward to this hearing and the long over-due investigation on the impacts of the ESA and the recommendations from the National Research Council."
Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA):
"The 2001 Klamath Basin water shut off was a tragedy that could have, and should have been avoided. Thanks to the diligence of biologists, community leaders and the National Academy of Sciences, we now know the demands for water from our farmers is political, and completely devoid of scientific grounding. Now, more than three years later, the Klamath farming community still faces hardships resulting from the 2001 shut off.
"Along with Congressmen Doolittle and Walden, I requested this hearing to shed national light on how speculation and a radical agenda influenced the Klamath decision, and how an inflexible Endangered Species Act prevented any alternatives. I would like to thank Chairman Pombo and Chairman Calvert for agreeing to hold this hearing, and for their continued support of sound science and Klamath Basin agriculture."
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