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Hastings Defends Making Dams National Debate

by Kristin Alexander, Herald staff writer
Tri-City Herald, June 25, 2000

Candidates for Washington's 4th Congressional District seat share many goals, but differ on whether the debate over breaching the four lower Snake River dams should be a national issue.

Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings kicked off his re-election campaign Saturday with a dinner at the Shilo Inn in Richland.

U.S. Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., came to support Hastings' run for a fourth term, as did more than 250 guests. Dreier is chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Hastings said the recent opening of a campaign center in Richland by his Democratic challenger, Jim Davis, won't change his campaign strategies.

"We're going to do exactly the same thing we've been doing the last five years," Hastings said, describing his plans to visit a number of cities throughout the spacious district.

Hastings and Davis, a Coulee City wheat farmer active in public power, share many of the same views on local issues. Both oppose dam breaching, support family farms and want to restart the Fast Flux Test Facility at Hanford and expedite Hanford cleanup.

"While we both are opposed to dam removal and breaching, the nuances are very critical. Strategy is everything," Davis told the Herald Saturday in a telephone interview. "We've always done best when we, as a region, have stayed together. ... I think what my opponent has basically done is not involved the whole region in some of his efforts and I think that's a mistake."

Davis claims Hastings caused the dam issue to become a national debate, which was an error.

"You don't want to debate this regional issue on the front page of the Washington Post and the New York Times. That's certainly not where the debate is going to play in our favor," Davis said.

But Hastings feels he's doing the right thing.

"If ... I made the dams a national issue, I'm extremely pleased," Hastings said.

Hastings believes national rifts between the Democratic and Republican parties may play an important role in the local election.

"My nominee for president, George W. Bush, made the statement the dams won't be removed. ... Al Gore has yet to take a stand on the dams," Hastings said.

Yet, Davis said his campaign has strong bilateral support and that's important.

"People need to feel they're being represented irrespective of party," he said.

Regarding efforts to clean up Hanford waste, Hastings said he'll continue to work to put the responsibility in the hands of the Department of Energy's Office of River Protection.

"We need to make sure that office has the opportunity to do the job it's supposed to do out here and not have DOE intermingle," Hastings said.

Davis did a stint as a gubernatorial appointee to a task force that studied Hanford tank waste issues in the mid-1980s.

"It's clear to me that we're doing is not on track and I think people are going to be stunned by increasing costs. We need to find a way that we can actually proceed within the restraints we have of budget agreements," he said.

Kristin Alexander
Hastings Defends Making Dams National Debate
Tri-City Herald, June 25, 2000

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