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A damming lawsuit

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Native American tribes in Oregon have hit ScottishPower with a $1bn lawsuit in an attempt to prevent the company damming the Klamath river in Oregon, which they regard as sacred, as part of an hydro-electric power scheme.

Klamath River Dams is owned an operated by PacifiCorp, a wholly owned subsidiary of ScottishPower. Headquartered in Glasgow, ScottishPower is the 28th largest energy company in the world, quoted as being worth over $14bn.

For over 7,000 years native people, such as the Klamath, Hoopa and Yurok tribes, have used the Klamath river as a place of worship, healing and meditation. When in 1916 a power company built a dam across the Klamath, the tribes were concerned. The damn would stop salmon migrating upstream and add food shortages to the tribes' problems.

Nearly 90 years later, and following the construction of another four dams, the tribes have taken legal action claiming the dams have destroyed their constitutional fishing rights.

The legal action is, according to the tribes, a last resort following the collapse of a promise by ScottishPower to build salmon runs, allowing fish to bypass the dams.

The lawsuit could be damaging to ScottishPower, as a company claiming to pride itself on its green initiatives.

The five dams on the Klamath generate just 2% of the company's hydroelectricity.

ScottishPower's problems could be compounded by the fact the licence to run the hydroelectric dams is up for renewal. The tribes hope the legal action may put pressure on the Federal Electricity Regulator Commission to insist salmon runs are built at the dams.

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