Wyden Speaks on Issuesby Rodger Nichols
The Dalles Chronicle, August 12, 2009
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Chronicle: We see that Judge Redden is about to rule on another fish plan for the Columbia. How did he get to be the fish czar, anyway?
Wyden: He becomes the fish czar because one administration after another has not been able to come up with a legally sustainable kind of plan, and obviously what we've been wrestling is, we had to pull out all the stops to get the county payments law renewed, which I still believe is the most important law that I've ever written for the state. The one I wrote in 2000 brought us about $1.5 billion, and this most recent one which got passed when Harry Reid agreed to my request is about $750 million. So I think that with that sort of emergency situation, that took much of the time for natural resources policy. So now, as we wait for Judge Redden's decision, the agenda is going to have to switch to coming up with a sensible approach to salmon.
Chronicle: The subject of breaching four dams on the Snake River has surfaced again. Can this really be a viable option?
Wyden: I historically felt that our economy and particularly the dams and this region, agriculture, trade, shipping, have benefited tremendously from that system. If someone can make a case for other approaches, it's the job of an elected official to listen. I start any discussion talking about the extraordinary benefits that have come to our region and our quality of life; everything from recreation to farming to trade, agriculture, small business. That's where I start.
Chronicle: As a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where do you see the energy situation going?
Wyden: The energy/climate change bill will, I think, be in the queue after health care. What I hope to be able to do, particularly on the energy side, is ensure that we have opportunities for biomass. I'm getting ready to offer a thinning proposal. There are millions of acres of second growth out there. We ought to go in and thin them out, get them to the mills. This is merchantable timber, use them for biomass, put people to work, help the forest get health. Healthy forests equal a healthy economy, and have a cleaner environment in the process. That's going to be a special Oregon priority in the energy/climate change arena.
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