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CBB Interview:
Idaho's Maddock Leaves Power Council

by Barry Espenson
Columbia Basin Bulletin - January 5, 2001

With the major task of revamping of the Columbia Basin fish and wildlife program well under way, and his 65th birthday fast approaching, Idaho's Todd Maddock in early December decided the time was right to step down from his position as a member of the Northwest Power Planning Council.

Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne accepted Maddock's resignation and on Dec. 22 appointed state legislator Jim Kempton to fill the post (See Story No. 5 below). Mike Field remains as Idaho's other NWPPC representative on the four-state compact formed by Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington to oversee electric power system planning and fish and wildlife recovery in the Columbia River Basin. Congress created the Council with approval of the Northwest Power Act of 1980. Each governor names two members to the Council.

Maddock said Wednesday he would remain involved through, perhaps, January to do what he can to help Kempton settle into his NWPPC role. After that Maddock plans to enjoy his retirement and continue involvement in community activities in his home base of Lewiston.

Maddock this week agreed to share, in an interview with the Columbia Basin Bulletin, his views about Columbia Basin power and fish and wildlife recovery issues.

Maddock joined the Council in January 1995, an appointee of then-Gov. Phil Batt. He served as NWPPC chairman in 1999.

Maddock had previously worked for 35 years in the forest products industry. At the time of his appointment, he was director of public affairs for Potlatch Corp. in Lewiston, handling governmental affairs as well. He graduated from Purdue University with a degree in forest management.

-- CBB: What do you consider key accomplishments of the Council during your tenure?

MADDOCK: "I really think that in the period of time I've been on the Council there's been the opportunity to enhance the credibility of the Council with regional stakeholders. When I was appointed to the Council, it was right on the heels of the Council passing their 1994 fish and wildlife plan.

"There was a lot of tension among the states at that time and a lack of faith among Council members. We had what might be termed a 4-4 split on the Council -- upriver interests and down river interests tended to be disagreeing on virtually every issue. I think we have overcome that. We also made changes in the staff that reflected a balanced perspective about the Council's role in the region, on both power and fish and wildlife.

"The fact that we've been able to go back to readdress the 1994 fish and wildlife plan and get started in a new direction with a new structure and have Phase I established is a major step in the right direction.

"And I think having had the opportunity to go through the framework process, bring all the stakeholders together and work for a period of time, 1 1/2 years or more, working toward this Phase I of our fish and wildlife plan has helped bring everybody along in a manner that gives us a broader base of support today than I think we've ever had in the past.

"The fact that we've been able to make the transition from our status in 1995 to what it is today in a very difficult time period," is a significant accomplishment in itself. "Within the first month or two that I was on the Council two things occurred. The National Marine Fisheries Service came out with its biological opinion -- essentially allowing them to manage the river. The second thing was that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission came out with their rules 888 and 889, which essentially deregulated the wholesale electric market and really changed the potential role of the Council in the region."

"Much of that uncertainty that came with those changes has now been clearly addressed by the Council and the Council staff. I think we have a better vision of what that role is than we did in 1995. With me, being a newcomer, it was really a challenge to try to gain enough understanding of things to play an effective role on the Council. There wasn't any road map. Even those who were extremely experienced in power or fish and wildlife issues were operating at the time without any experience in the type of environment we were dealing with."

-- CBB: What do you consider some of the key issues facing the Council, and Idaho's Council representatives in particular, in the future?

MADDOCK: "We think we're progressing with a fish and wildlife program that should serve the needs -- meet the obligations -- of the Endangered Species Act. I think that challenge lies before the Council. Are we going to be able to work collaboratively with the federal agencies in a manner that will allow our plan to satisfy those needs? That question remains open. I think we've been sensitive to it all along. We've tried very hard to work in conjunction with federal agencies and will continue to do that.

"On the power side, a continuing challenge is to determine just where the Council's planning role fits into what is at least a partially deregulated utility industry. We've moved a long way toward gaining additional credibility for our ability to analyze the situation, come up with an honest portrayal of what the current situation might be. I like to think we've created a role for ourselves as an honest broker of information. The challenge remains -- can we maintain that role?"

-- CBB: The Council is designed as a collaborative body but each state, obviously, represents a different economic, political and biological landscape. The governors, who appoint Council members, are responsible for protecting those interests. What issues would you identify as of particular interest to the state of Idaho as the Council tries to address both power reliability and fish and wildlife recovery issues?

MADDOCK: "Obviously each of us on the Council has to represent the interests of our state and our governor. There's great interest in Idaho in having a recovery of salmon. Certainly there's a great interest in maintaining the quality of fish and wildlife in the region and the environment.

"By the same token, at least the governors I've served under and I think the state Legislature and the general public, feel their ought to be ways to achieve that without degrading our federal hydrosystem or the ancillary economic benefits that come from water navigation and irrigation and other things that are so important to our state. Our challenge was to try to balance those in some way that would fit the needs of our state and allow us to work with other states.

-- CBB: Could you characterize your view of the Council's relationship with the federal agencies, and the administration, as regards both power issues and fish and wildlife recovery?

MADDOCK: "The eight Council members that we currently have -- have had over the past couple years -- probably have worked better and more closely on these issues than at any time I was on the Council. I think we're sensitive to each other's needs and recognize that the Council, lacking any direct authority over the federal agencies, only had political strength if we worked together.

"The federal agencies -- I don't know if they've all been together themselves. That makes it challenging to work with them. They each have their own mandate and their own objectives. Somehow we have to match them up and that hasn't been easy.

"The issue of flow augmentation is a classic example. Here in Idaho and I think perhaps the same is true in Montana, the justification has not been fully made. The science behind that just isn't compelling. So as a result, looking at the cost of flow augmentation and the economic dislocation that occurs, asking for that stored water to be sent downstream at inappropriate times of the year -- it's pretty hard to understand.

-- CBB: Do you foresee an improvement in that relationship under the Bush administration?

MADDOCK: " I think the Bush administration would somewhat reflect a leaning toward -- if you look at the balance between economic and environmental interests -- economic interests. But perhaps even more central than a Bush Administration coming in, the changes that are occurring on the power side and the potential shortage of electric generation and the failure to meet the critical needs of the region and the West will probably have more bearing on this balance."

-- CBB: Is the issue of Lower Snake River dam breaching realistically off table?

MADDOCK: "I'm looking pretty seriously at the breadth of scientific research that is going on with regard to the benefit of removing those dams. I think as we learn more about what those benefits might be, we may be less inclined in the future to remove those dams because those benefits are probably being diminished by the results of that scientific research that is occurring today.

"Plus, the fact that we have such an intense need for new electrical generation. Those dams are big power producers," despite the claims of dam breaching proponents who point out the Lower Snake dams produce only 5 percent of the energy in the system.

"They also play a significant role in meeting peaking requirements in the region at times of critical need. With that in mind I think the balance is going to continue to move toward retaining the dams because of their benefits for electricity and also, secondarily, their benefits for navigation and irrigation.

"The importance of the dams in terms of their role in recovering the salmon I think has been diminished as a result of current research -- as long as the Corps and the federal agencies continue to work more diligently to find better passage routes with the dams in place. They're achieving some success there.

"I've heard (Council Chairman) Larry Cassidy say at times, and I agree with him, that if it boils down to the fact that you can have fish or power, power will win --just because it touches so many more people and has so much more significance in a political way. We're kind of facing that now. You're seeing scientific research diminish the importance of dam removal as a mechanism for recovering fish. At the same time the need for additional generation in the region probably has never been greater than it is right now and there's no immediate solution for that problem." -- CBB: Do you think the Basin needs a new governance structure to streamline decision making and accountability?

MADDOCK: "I run hot and cold on whether we need a new governance structure or not. Clearly the region has a marvelous benefit here in the form of the federal hydrosystem -- relating to power generation, irrigation, navigation and all of the recreational attributes that go along with that.

"Somehow we as a region need to find a way in which we can work together toward assuming the liabilities that go along with that in order to gain control of those benefits. In order to do that, you have to have some entity that would allow you to step in and govern that system. The Council, statutorily, is sitting here about 50 percent down the road of being able to do that. It makes sense to me to build on that and create a governing body that has that capability.

"Where you run into trouble is -- how do you change the representation on the Council so that you adequately deal with the interests of the federal agencies and also the tribal interests. Until we can get over that hurdle, it seems to me the best thing you can do is have the Council continue in its present role -- one that has over time accepted greater accountability for expenditure of money and has attempted to reach out to a broad range of stakeholders in the region.

"But politically, it may be too late, particularly that now there's such an emphasis being placed on reliability and adequacy of electricity. That federal hydrosystem and the benefits of the hydrosystem are now much more in the limelight than they were before and it may be much more difficult for the region to assume that responsibility.

"The telling thing would be whether the region can join ranks, particularly with the tribal interests participating fully, and support a governing body that would represent those interests and do it quickly. I think that it could be done. But the longer we're in this situation, the less likely it will be that the region will have that opportunity."

-- CBB: Can the Council, in the future, influence decisions on the extent and timing of flow augmentation that you referred to above, or the maintenance of lower Snake River dams on which navigation depends?

MADDOCK: Only, I guess in a secondary way to the extent that our fish and wildlife plan meets the needs of the ESA. There is an opportunity, by having our plan based on local, subbasin advisory groups . . . there is a greater opportunity for that to occur.

"I'm certainly a believer that the more locally you can make you decisions, address the problems that occur, the better the decisions will be and the more success you will have in implementing them.

"I have felt all along that the federal agencies are going to be obligated to follow, be sensitive to the regional needs, if the region can be together on what they want to do. I may be overly optimistic, but I have a sense that the Council today is working more closely and serving the needs of tribal interests better than we ever have before. In the sense that the states and tribes can work together, I think that represents a critical mass in the region that federal agencies in the region will have to respect."

Barry Espenson
CBB Interview: Idaho's Maddock Leaves Power Council
Columbia Basin Bulletin, January 5, 2001

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