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Commentaries and editorials

What Happens when Seattle Politics
Seep into Eastern Washington?

by Saul Spady Show
770 KTTH, January 31, 2019

The season for on-request lockage is fast approaching on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo) Washington may not be the biggest state in the country, but living in Seattle, it can be easy to forget that its politics are diverse. Speaking on that recently was Chris Cargill, the Eastern Washington Director of the Washington Policy Center.

"For those of us in Eastern Washington trying to keep track of what's going on in the legislative process, it's overwhelming," Cargill told KTTH's Saul Spady. "It takes so much time for those of us in Eastern Washington to be involved in the legislative session, when you consider the fact that we have to jump in the car and travel four, five, or six hours to Olympia if we want to go down and testify."

To that, Seattle's own proximity to the state capital can often have those in the easternmost region of Washington feeling cut off from the conversation.

"It's just the constant kind of conveyor belt of ideas that get adopted in Seattle, and then, of course, make their way on down to Olympia, and try to get adopted statewide," Cargill noted.

That being so, he warns, applying a policy developed in Seattle on a state level doesn't fully weigh the concerns of the eastern region of Washington.

"Just because something may be good for Seattle, does not mean that it fits statewide," he said.

There are steps being taken to help bring Eastern Washington into the fold, including the introduction of video conference testimony into the state Senate to save people the five-hour drive to Olympia.

The system as it exists now has anyone interested in testifying sign up for a session, go to a local college, and video conference straight in. It's currently only available for the state Senate, though, with the state House of Representatives yet to adopt it.

State issues through an Eastern Washington lens
One particular issue that the two sides butt heads on is tearing down the Snake River dams to aid Puget Sound's waning orca population.

"We're trying to bring attention to the fact that that will not help Puget Sound orcas," Cargill said.

More than that, the economic impact on Eastern Washington's shipping economy would be widely felt across the state.

The Snake River dams really provide an environmental benefit for us, specifically when we're talking about trying to get trucks off the roads and get our products to port. It's really a matter of working in concert with the state's transportation system, with our port system in Seattle. With all of the food and products that we barge up and down the rivers in Eastern Washington, we're not going to be able to do that if we get rid of the Snake River dams.
For Cargill, this sort of issue is about recognizing that what's good for Seattle isn't what works for our eastern neighbors.

"There are many pockets of the state where you cannot adopt a Seattle policy -- it just does not work economically."

Graphic: (1990-2016) Millions of tons of grain through locks in the Walla Walla District, ACOE data XeonPrime
I also don’t see the connection with the dams and the orcas. Enviros are over reaching on this one. I do think many of them suffer from the Lewis&Clark romanticism virus. The belief we can go back to how this area looked in the early 19th century and abandon all modernity. I even remember back in high school how we were presented a lecture in class by a early enviro. He advocated tearing down our cities and erecting pillar like platforms for people too live on. At 16 I knew they didn’t have loose marbles but none at all.

Drain the Sawant to XeonPrime
The tree huggers want the dams removed to save the salmon, which will save the whales, which will bankrupt the people. Tree huggers loathe themselves and hate all humans and think we are a cancer to Mother Nature. So it all works out.

Ogre Is Wise to Drain the Sawant
But the whales will die as they naturally do anyway so removing the dams is pointless but the tree huggers will demand that more money will fix everything even though it doesn't. Same logic was used for bike lanes. Very few use them but they will build more lanes so that more will use them.

XeonPrime to Ogre Is Wise
All I see are homeless vagrants squatting on them when I leave work. It’s a mess.

Vincent Adultman to Drain the Sawant
Those dams are incredibly marginal in hydropower production. We'll all be better off with them gone.

The Contrarian toVincent Adultman
Wrong. You be the first one to unplug from the electrical grid and then I'll take you seriously.

Deplorable, Virulent to The Contrarian
They move a lot of grain too.

Vincent Adultman to The Contrarian
Uh, not wrong. They have almost no reservoir capacity, meaning they're only able to operate anywhere near capacity during the spring melt, when there's little demand. These are not high performance dams like the Columbia ones. They could be replaced by solar and wind at minimal cost.

The Contrarian to Vincent Adultman
Uh, yes wrong. Why is it that people are so clueless about our electrical grid? You can NOT replace the lost hydropower with solar or wind, because those sources come and go as Gaia pleases. The dam's generators can run 24/7 as long as there is sufficient water (and they don't have to bypass to appease the fish gods). It does NOT need a secondary, backup power plant to take over for it when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine.

Solar and wind are NOT dispatchable (meaning that you can call on them when you need them) power sources! Do your homework people!

You can NOT simply replace baseload, dispatchable power plants (like all of our existing, conventional ones) with alternative energy sources!

I'm all in favor of alternative energy, but it is at best a supplement to our existing baseload plants.

Vincent Adultman to The Contrarian
See, I think you're the one who needs to look into it a little more.

A) You've made my point for me - "sufficient water." The Snake River dams have negligible reservoir capacity. They're at the mercy of snowmelt, which doesn't align at all with when the region needs power.

B) The dispatchabilty of power from dams that do have reservoir capacity makes it the perfect complement to intermittent power sources. You can spool hydro turbines up essentially on demand, versus fossil baseload plants. When you have unneeded renewable energy (windy nights), you can even pump water back up into the reservoir to "recharge."

So, your point would be valid if someone was proposing to get rid of a productive dam with a large reservoir. This isn't, though.

WA81 to Vincent Adultman
Thats why my power bill is never above $50 because they marginally produce electricity. If you want to pay $1500 a month for power go to Hawaii, I say keep the damns.

Vincent Adultman toWA81
Replacing 1000mw of marginal hydropower with renewables is a slam dunk. $1/month says the experts.

Saul Spady Show
What Happens when Seattle Politics Seep into Eastern Washington?
770 KTTH, January 31, 2019

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