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Commentaries and editorials

Oregon Should Join the
Collaboration to Save Salmon

by Scott Corwin and Terry Flores
The Oregonian, September 29, 2012

In his Sept. 23 op-ed, Gov. John Kitzhaber calls for other state and tribal leaders to join him in creating a new "table" to reach consensus on how to recover endangered salmon and steelhead species in the Columbia River. We welcome his engagement in this issue, but can't help wonder: Where has he been?

A collaborative table involving all the Northwest states and tribes -- known as the "sovereigns" process -- has been in place since 2005. In addition to the states and tribes, it involves all of the relevant federal agencies, and has the support of two presidential administrations over the past seven years. By 2008, this unprecedented process resulted in a historic agreement and a new science-based plan for salmon and federal hydropower operations. The plan is the largest restoration program for endangered species anywhere in the country.

Oregon has had a seat at that table from the beginning. Unfortunately, it has chosen to continue to litigate the plan instead of joining with the other three Northwest states and more than a dozen tribal leaders who support it.

Gov. Kitzhaber can change that. We recognize that the governor has had a full plate dealing with critical issues his first two years in office, including a dire budget and economic situation. We commend him for his strong desire to engage in the salmon issue, and believe he can bring the leadership Oregon really needs to the successful collaboration that is already under way.

And to his credit, the governor cited much of the progress that is already taking place, including implementation of a massive habitat restoration program and changes to hydropower operations. These changes, along with favorable ocean conditions, have resulted in some of the best salmon runs seen in decades. He's essentially endorsing what is already in place.

He also notes, "It will require everyone to give a little." It is important to point out that not only have federal agencies already stepped up to the plate, but hardworking Northwest families and businesses are already paying for the salmon plan through their electric bills. The habitat restoration program alone costs $1 billion over 10 years, not including another $1 billion that has been spent this decade to ensure that dams are more salmon-friendly. Everyone is giving -- not a little, but a lot.

Oregon needs to re-engage in this collaborative process with tribal sovereigns and the other states.

Kitzhaber is the one who can make that happen and move the state away from divisive litigation to a more positive role in the region. All of the other Northwest states' governors have designated knowledgeable representatives to sit at the court-ordered table. They've offered their perspective and expertise. Oregon's seat is waiting to be filled.

We're pleased the governor is calling for an agreement for salmon that "protects fish while maintaining our supply of clean and affordable energy." But, rather than create another duplicative process, we could use the governor's passion and intellect in implementing -- not litigating -- the historic agreement that has already been struck.

PPC represents consumer-owned utilities that range in size from 10 to over 375,000 customers. PPC member utilities fall into three categories: municipal, public or people's utility districts and rural electric cooperatives. While a number of these utilities have their own generation, many rely entirely on BPA for wholesale power.

Blachly-Lane Electric, Oregon
Clearwater Power Company, Idaho
Columbia Rural Electric, Washington
Consumers Power, Inc., Oregon
Coos-Curry Electric, Oregon
Fall River Rural Electric, Idaho
Flathead Electric, Montana
Harney Electric, Oregon
Hood River Electric, Oregon
Idaho County Light & Power, Idaho
Inland Power & Light Company, Washington
Kootenai Electric Cooperative, Idaho
Lane Electric, Oregon
Lincoln Electric, Montana
Missoula Electric, Montana
Okanogan County Electric, Washington
Oregon Trail Elec. Cooperative, Oregon
Parkland Light & Water, Washington
Peninsula Light Company, Washington
Raft River Rural Electric, Idaho
Ravalli County Electric, Montana
Riverside Electric, Idaho
Salem Electric, Oregon
Umatilla Electric, Oregon
United Electric, Idaho
Vigilante Electric, Montana
Wasco Electric, Oregon

Benton, Washington
Central Lincoln, Oregon
Clallam County, Washington
Clark Public Utilities, Washington
Clatskanie, Oregon
Columbia River, Oregon
Cowlitz County, Washington
Emerald, Oregon
Ferry County, Washington
Franklin County, Washington
Grays Harbor, Washington
Kittitas County, Washington
Klickitat County, Washington
Lewis County, Washington
Mason County #1, Washington
Mason County #3, Washington
Northern Wasco County, Oregon
Okanogan County, Washington
Pacific County #2, Washington
Pend Oreille County, Washington
Skamania County, Washington
Snohomish County, Washington
Tillamook, Oregon
Wahkiakum, Washington
Whatcom, Washington

City of Ashland, Oregon
City of Bandon, Oregon
City of Blaine, Washington
City of Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Canby Utility, Oregon
City of Cascade Locks, Oregon
City of Centralia, Washington
City of Cheney Light Department, Washington
City of Ellensburg, Washington
Eugene Water & Electric Board, Oregon
City of Forest Grove, Oregon
Idaho Falls Power, Idaho
McMinnville Water & Light, Oregon
Milton-Freewater Light & Power, Oregon
City of Monmouth, Oregon
City of Port Angeles, Washington
City of Richland, Washington
Port of Seattle, Washington
City of Rupert Electric Dept., Idaho
Seattle City Light, Washington
Springfield Utility Board, Oregon
City of Sumas, Washington
Tacoma Power, Washington
Vera Water & Power, Washington

Yakama Power, Washington

Northwest RiverPartners is an alliance of over 100 farmers, utilities, ports and small and large businesses that relies on and promotes the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake rivers. RiverPartners members support salmon recovery policies based on sound science and cost effectiveness. See the current list of members below.

Adams County Farm Bureau
Alcoa Inc.
Asotin County PUD
Associated Oregon Industries
Association of Washington Business
Avista Corporation
Benton County Farm Bureau
Benton PUD
Benton Rural Electric Association
Big Bend Electric Cooperative
Bonners Ferry Cooperative, Inc.
Burley, City of
Cascade Locks
Central Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Central Lincoln PUD
Chelan-Douglas Farm Bureau
City of Richland
Clallam County PUD
Clark-Cowlitz County Farm Bureau
Clark Public Utilities
Clarkston Chamber of Commerce
Clatskanie Peoples Utility District
Clearwater Power Company
Columbia Basin Development League
Columbia Basin Electric Cooperative
Columbia-Blue Mountain Farm Bureau
Columbia Gorge Community College
Columbia Power Cooperative Assoc.
Columbia River PUD
Columbia Rural Electric Assoc.
Consumers Power, Inc.
Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative
Cowlitz County PUD
Douglas Electric Cooperative
Eugene Water and Electric Board
Fall River REC, Inc.
Farmers Cooperative Creamery
Flathead Electric Cooperative
Forest Grove Light and Power
Franklin County Farm Bureau
Franklin County PUD
Grant County Farm Bureau
Grant County PUD
Grays Harbor County PUD #1
Harney Electric Cooperative
Hermiston Energy Services
Hood River Electric Cooperative
Idaho Consumer-Owned Utility Assoc.
Idaho County Light & Power
Idaho Falls Power
Industrial Customers of NW Utilities
Inland Power & Light Company
Island County Farm Bureau
King-Pierce County Farm Bureau
Kittitas County Farm Bureau
Kittitas County PUD
Kootenai Electric Cooperative
Lane Electric Cooperative
Lewis County PUD
Lincoln County Farm Bureau
Lincoln Electric Cooperative
Longview Fibre
Lower Valley Energy
Mason County PUD No. 1
Mason County PUD No. 3
McMinnville Water and Light
Midstate Electric Cooperative
Missoula Electric Cooperative
Modern Electric Water Company
Monmouth, City of
Northern Lights, Inc.
Northern Wasco County PUD
Northwest Agricultural Products
Northwest Requirements Utilities
Okanogan County Electric Cooperative
Okanogan County PUD No. 1
Orcas Power & Light CooperativeOregon Forest Industries Council
Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative
Oregon Wheat Growers League
Pacific County PUD No. 2
Pacific NW Utilities Conference Committee
Pacific Northwest Waterways Assoc.
Parkland Light and Water Company
Pend Oreille County PUD No. 1
PNGC Power
Port of Lewiston
Port of Pasco
Puget Sound Energy
Raft River Rural Electric Cooperative
Ravalli County Electric
Rupert, City of
Salem Electric
Skagit County Farm Bureau
Snohomish County Farm Bureau
Snohomish County PUD No. 1
Springfield Utility Board
Surprise Valley Electrification Corp.
Tacoma Power
The Boeing Company
Tillamook PUD
Umatilla Electric Cooperative
United Electric Cooperative
Vera Water and Power
Vigilante Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Walkley Farms, LLC
Walla Walla County Farm Bureau
Wasco Electric Cooperative
Washington State Farm Bureau
Washington State Potato Commission
Wells Rural Electric Company
West Oregon Electric Cooperative
Whatcom County PUD No. 1

Scott Corwin is executive director of the Public Power Council.
Terry Flores is executive director of Northwest RiverPartners.
Oregon Should Join the Collaboration to Save Salmon
The Oregonian, September 29, 2012

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