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Gorton Slams Udall Over Dam Removal

by Associated Press
Spokesman Review, March 11, 2000

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Slade Gorton rebuked a New Mexico congressman Friday for his support of removing dams on the Snake River in Gorton's home state of Washington.

Rep. Tom Udall was testifying in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee about plans to spend $101 million to buy the 95,000-acre Baca Ranch in his northern New Mexico district. Gorton, a Republican who heads the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing such environmental spending, lashed out at the Democrat Udall's support for removing the four dams.

"You are damn lucky you have a senator to cover your arse," Gorton told Udall, referring to support of the ranch purchase from Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

Gorton said breaching the dams would eliminate a source of hydroelectric power, put 700,000 more trucks on Northwest roads and turn thousands of acres of farmland "back into desert."

"I don't see it that way," Udall replied. "I think this can be made into a win-win situation."

Udall is the first member of Congress to publicly endorse breaching the Snake River dams. He and Oregon's Democratic governor, John Kitzhaber, say scientific studies show removing the dams would help revive salmon populations.

The proposal is strongly opposed by Gorton and other powerful Western GOP lawmakers. But Udall said he wasn't worried about Gorton punishing him by withholding money for projects in Udall's home state.

Gorton told Udall he should have consulted Washington state lawmakers before calling for the dams to be breached.

"It's advisable that before you get involved in an issue thousands of miles from your district to get some input from those whose lives it affects," Gorton said.

Associated Press
Gorton Slams Udall Over Dam Removal
Spokesman Review, March 11, 2000

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