Water Push Ignites Debateby Mitch Lies
Capital Press, February 9, 2012
Bill to increase withdrawals called 'major threat,' boon
SALEM -- Proposed state legislation to increase Oregon water withdrawals from the Columbia River is either a "major threat" or a welcomed jobs bill, depending on who is asked.
House Bill 4101 would create a task force to recommend how to use 450,000 acre-feet of new water withdrawals from the Columbia.
The bill is one of four listed as a "major threat" by the Oregon Conservation Network, a coalition of more than 50 conservation organizations.
Contrary to that characterization, Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, in a Feb. 8 newsletter said HB4101 "would invigorate Oregon's northeastern agricultural economy and create more than 10,000 new jobs in five years."
He stated that the additional water withdrawals would add "$1.7 billion in family paychecks and $129 million in additional state revenue over five years." Richardson stated the withdrawals "would result in no appreciable effect on the Columbia River's salmon or shipping."
The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, is up for a hearing Feb. 14 in the House Energy, Environment and Water Committee.
The committee meets in Hearing Room D beginning at 3 p.m.
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