Monday, February 27, 2012

Siskiyou threatened to sue over KHSA

This just in to my mailbox from Siskiyou County Counsel Thomas Guarino:
At the direction of the Board of Supervisors, Siskiyou County Supervisors Jim Cook and Michael Kobseff traveled to Washington D.C. today and met with Ms. Laura Davis, the Chief of Staff for the Secretary of the Interior. They were informed prior to the public release of the Secretary’s statement that the decision on the Secretarial Determination would be postponed.

Recently, the County of Siskiyou had threatened suit over various failings in the Secretarial Determination process and is actively in the process of preparing that litigation. The Chief of Staff indicated that they would “comply with all applicable law and guidance.” It would appear that this would require compliance with the Council on Economic Quality Standards that mandate that agencies issuing final Environmental Impact Statements provide for full funding of all agreed upon mitigations.

The Chief of Staff indicated that, to their knowledge, the pending legislation would not waive any County ordinances. It was the impression of the Supervisors that this would mean that there would be full compliance with County ordinances, including the County’s demolition ordinance which requires full environmental compliance.

The County appreciates the Secretary’s reconsideration of the timing of his Determination and Supervisors Cook and Kobseff look forward to reporting to the Board of Supervisors and evaluating with the Board the potential impact on the threatened litigation.
Meanwhile, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who introduced the Senate version of the authorization bill, will keep plugging away, his spokeswoman told me in an e-mail today. Communications director Julie Edwards said:
Farmers, fisherman, local officials and Native American tribes worked for years to come together on an agreement to provide stability and economic opportunity to the Klamath Basin. Senator Merkley was proud to stand with them to introduce legislation to implement their proposals. We understood when the legislation was introduced that the deadline for a secretarial determination – set several years ago – would need to be postponed to give Congress time to act.

Senator Merkley continues to work with his colleagues in the House and Senate to educate members as to the importance of his bill, understanding that, for many, this is the first they have heard of the effort to end water disputes. We will continue to work with the community and the Administration to move forward on this effort.
My abbreviated story on the Salazar statement is here. For a more in-depth look at what the delay in the secretarial determination could mean for the future of the Klamath River dam removal proposal, check soon.

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