This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) prohibiting federal funds from being used to carry out the Klamath Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study, which examined the possibility of removing four dams on the Klamath River (which flows from southeastern Oregon to Northern California). This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
Local environmental groups and the Obama administration supported the removal of these dams in order to strengthen the local ecosystem and restore endangered salmon populations.
McClintock urged support for his amendment: “Let me emphasize: Congress never authorized this study…. At a time when skyrocketing electricity prices threaten our economy and when acute capacity shortages threaten the reliability of our grid, destroying 155 megawatts of clean, cheap, and reliable hydroelectricity is simply insane.” Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA) argued: “…As a staunch supporter of dams, I understand my colleague's position on this issue, and I support this amendment. The constituents I represent overwhelmingly oppose removing functioning hydropower and its associated benefits. I fully share that concern and the disturbing precedent it sets…this amendment by itself will, unfortunately, not address the underlying issue, which is the environmental extortion that impacts property owners across the West and that impacts the hardworking people who depend on the land for their livelihoods.”
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) opposed the amendment: “This amendment would stop a comprehensive local solution to a major and very costly problem in the Klamath River Basin. This effort at the local level, supported by farmers and ranchers, fishermen, conservation groups, the privately owned power company in question, tribes, as well as the states of California and Oregon…It's a study. It does not, nor is it an agreement to, remove any dams. All the local communities in the Klamath Basin, even those who were opposed to dam removal, support the completion of the study and they are at the table working on this specific issue.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 215-210. Voting “yea” were 210 Republicans and 5 Democrats. 182 Democrats and 28 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used to carry out the Klamath Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study, which examined the possibility of removing four dams on the Klamath River.