KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — A former government scientist says the Department of Interior has painted too positive a picture of ecosystem recovery if dams are removed on the Klamath River. Paul Houser was a scientific integrity officer. And he says he was fired for expressing his dissent.
Houser spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in a high school gym in Klamath Falls on Sunday.
The Department of Interior has been researching the impact to salmon of removing four dams on the Klamath River. The dams are owned by PacifiCorp.
Houser says some of the department’s studies showed that factors like climate change and water pollution could hinder salmon recovery even if the dams come out.
But Houser says that kind of critical information was left out of the summary for policy makers and the public. The Interior Department in January issued a report concluding dam removal would be economically and environmentally beneficial.
“It’s important for decisions makers to know the risks and uncertainties, and those just weren’t put in. So they could send this message that removing the dams was a good thing,” Houser said.
Houser says he was told not to document his concerns. He did, and then he was placed on probation and fired.
Houser has filed a whistleblower complaint with Interior.
According to news reports, the department has declined to comment on why Houser was fired and is investigating his complaints.
Houser now teaches at George Mason University in Virginia. His appearance in Klamath Falls Sunday and Yreka, Calif. Monday are hosted by the Cal-Ore Bi-State Alliance.
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