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New Power Council Member said Driven by Fairness

by The Associated Press
State & Local Wire, December 30, 2002

MILTON-FREEWATER, Ore. -- Melinda Eden has been a journalist, environmental lawyer, agribusinesswoman, chairwoman of the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission.

Now she is the newest member of the Northwest Power Planning Council. She believes her experience gives her insight into the issues the council faces.

"It's an awesome responsibility," she says.

The four-state council balances hydropower generation with fish and wildlife protection in the Columbia River Basin.

"She's determined to get to the bottom of things," says Roy Hemmingway, a former power council member and longtime friend who is chairman of the Oregon Public Utility Commission. What's more, "she's a fighter."

Eden, 54, had a fear of heights but became a mountain climber. She worked as a sports reporter in the days when women rarely did. She lived a good life as a single woman in urban Portland but married and moved to rural eastern Oregon 10 years ago.

Eden approaches her new $92,436-a-year job with intensity. Since her Oregon Senate confirmation in November, she has attended council meetings, sought perspective from tribal members, irrigators and conservationists and pored through policy briefings and legal statutes. She is known for fairness.

"I considered myself a knee-jerk environmentalist when I lived in the city," Eden says. "Then I became a lawyer and got a business perspective and learned that things are more complicated."

Ten years ago she married farmer Ray Williams, which further broadened her environmental perspective. He was a non-practicing lawyer who raised dairy heifers outside Milton-Freewater.

Today Eden and Williams live in a home surrounded by rolling wheat and alfalfa fields. And more than 5,000 dairy heifers.

The Associated Press
New Power Council Member said Driven by Fairness
State & Local Wire, December 30, 2002

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