Bush Calls Ice Harbor Dam
by Herald staff and Associated Press
Quoting former President Lyndon Johnson, President George W. Bush called Ice Harbor Dam "an asset of astounding importance to America" during his Tri-City visit this morning.
LBJ used the same words during his 1962 dedication of the dam.
The president was introduced by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who referred to Bush's 2000 campaign promise here to prevent the Lower Snake River dams from being breached and introduced him as a "compassionate conservationist."
To loud cheers, the president said, "We don't need to be breaching any dams that are producing electricity. We've got to make sure we increase the supply and maintain the supply. Part of our national energy policy is that we maintain supply."
A theme throughout his speech was that people closest to the land care most about it.
"Every day is Earth Day if you're a farmer."
Bush said he appreciated the "can-do" attitude of Western farmers. "We don't have to worry about food," he said. "And that's good for national security."
The nation can't say the same about the nation's energy supply, he said, and America is too dependent on foreign energy sources. "That's bad for national security.
"We understand in this administration that we want local folks to revitalize the salmon runs. The good news is that salmon runs are up," the president said, drawing applause.
Bush also noted that the nation has a power shortage and that hydroelectric dams, which environmentalists contend are killing the fish, should not be removed.
Environmentalists want to remove Ice Harbor and three other dams on the Snake to help migrating salmon.
Bush arrived safely at the Tri-Cities Airport this morning.
The shining lights of Air Force One appeared on the horizon at 9 a.m. Bush, the first acting president to visit the Tri-Cities in 32 years, emerged about 15 minutes later.
He was greeted by a line of Tri-City dignitaries, including Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., the mayors of Richland, Pasco and Kennewick.
He then shook hands with 12 Girl Scouts from Richland Troop No. 272 before climbing into his black limousine about 9:20 a.m. to head to Ice Harbor Dam.
It was a 20-minute-long ride to the dam. Hundreds of onlookers lined highways 12 and 124 in the Burbank area.
Bush had a 10-minute tour of the dam. He stopped to lean over the rail looking at the fish ladder and asked some questions. He then was escorted inside the dam.
Some local Democrats who were protesting the president's visit were initially stationed on the Lewis Street overpass on Highway 12. As the president spoke at Ice Harbor Dam, the protesters moved to join other Democrats to Hood Park at Highway 12 and Highway 124, waiting for the motorcade to return to the airport.
Twin brothers from Portland, Bobby and D.J. Vandeusen, drove up to the Tri-Cities to see the president. On Thursday, they attended street demonstrations in Portland, though they were protesting the protesters. They held up a pro-Bush sign Friday as the motorcade drove by and got a thumbs-up from the president.
Also in the crowd was Lance Corp. Samuel Venegas of Twentynine Palms, Calif. The Pasco native returned from Iraq three weeks ago and was in town visiting family and friends.
"I wanted to see the commander-in-chief."
The visit was the president's first trip to Washington since losing the state in the 2000 election.
Later today, Bush is headed for a $2,000-a-plate fund raiser in the affluent Seattle suburb of Hunts Point.
Conservation groups mounted a furious campaign this week to paint Bush as disastrous to the environment. But supporters of the president say his policies have helped increase the number of salmon returning to spawning grounds.
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