Paul Weiland Discusses Western Dam Removal at California Water Law Symposium

Nossaman LLP

Paul Weiland recently participated in the 2020 California Water Law Symposium, held at San Francisco's Golden Gate University School of Law. The theme of this year's Symposium was "Federalism & Water: Shifts in State/Federal Roles and Relations." Paul's panel, organized by Stanford University, was entitled "Promises and Challenges of Western Dam Removals: Lessons from the Lower Klamath Project.” The proposed Lower Klamath Project involves the planned removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The panelists explored the federal, state, local, tribal, industry and civil society dynamics at play.

Paul described the concerns of Nossaman client, Siskiyou County, regarding the proposed Project.  The County is home to three of the four dams slated for removal.  Among the concerns​ are the facts that:

  • the sole justification for the proposed Project is based on benefits for salmonids but there is no question it will cause short-term harm to the species and the long-term benefits are conjectural,
  • the proposed Project is inadequately capitalized,
  • the proponents intend to turn over dam removal to a newly created corporation that will be dissolved once the dams are down for the purpose of shielding PacifiCorp and the other proponents from liability for the adverse consequences of dam removal, and
  • the proposed Project would have direct and adverse economic impacts on Siskiyou County that the federal and state governments and PacifiCorp have ignored to date.

The California Water Law Symposium is a collaborative student-run event that consistently brings together leading minds in water law to discuss California’s critical water issues. Led this year by Golden Gate University School of Law, participant schools include USF School of Law; UC Hastings College of the Law; UC Berkeley School of Law; UC Davis School of Law; Stanford University Law School; and University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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