News from the Front #74:  

Halloween Special:  General Ripper Takes Over Seattle and BPA

"I can no longer sit back and allow communist infiltration, communist indoctrination, communist perversion and the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."

General Jack Ripper, in Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 

What a difference a few decades make.  Forty years ago, it was the far Right that worried about contamination of our "precious bodily fluids" in ways easy to lampoon.  Now it is the far Left.  The only problem is that unlike the fictional General Ripper, the modern obsessives are very real, very numerous, and very, very destructive.  

Right now, they are in the middle of building what may be the most expensive electric transmission line in the history of the United States:  the Kangley-Echo Lake addition, which adds nine miles of 500-kilovolt transmission line to the Bonneville system.  Five miles of the addition go through the Cedar River watershed, owned by the City of Seattle.  This watershed contains a forest which drains, eventually, into the source of much of the drinking water used by City residents.  

Thus Bonneville was required to obtain a 150-foot easement through the watershed, which took more than a year of negotiations with the Seattle Mayor's office.  Under the modern "hold-up" theory of public stewardship, the Mayor's office held up Bonneville for the numerous payoffs, the cost of which, of course, must be borne by the hapless Seattle City Light ratepayers and other ratepayers across the Pacific Northwest, including:  

The true craziness of all parties involved can be seen from looking at the agreed-upon on-the-ground "mitigation" measures, which Bonneville proudly lists in the October 2003 issue of "Between the Lines", "an internal publication for BPA's Transmission Business Line" (812 Kb Acrobat file):  

What makes all of these requirements even crazier is that they been imposed without regard to whether the construction is anywhere near a body of water.  

It is insane to think that a construction worker releasing his "bodily fluids" behind a tree in the woods is going to pose any threat the City's water supply.  It is insane to think that a few drops of oil hitting the ground from a truck's oil pan or a back hoe's hydraulic cylinder is going to pose any threat to the City's water supply.  It is insane to hire a small army of workers to shine flashlights under the hood of every truck that comes in and out of the construction site.  (If weeds are really a problem, a single worker could spray them dead next spring.) 

Competent Bonneville negotiators  would tell the City negotiators that if they wanted to freeze in the dark, fine, but Bonneville isn't going to pay enormous tribute for providing a valuable service to City residents, and isn't going to do a bunch of crazy, stupid, and expensive things to boot.  But the Bonneville employees now making critical decisions in the Front Office have redefined competence to mean meeting the goals of General Ripper.  Many, such as Lorri Bodi, who lauded the Bonneville/City agreement and the "hard work of the BPA and Seattle negotiating teams" in internal communications to Bonneville employees, carry solid Ripperite credentials.  Bodi is the former co-head of the environmentalist group American Rivers; instead of attacking Bonneville from the outside, she now undermines it from the inside.  

In a sane world, Bonneville employees would be hiding in their offices and pretending not to know how something like this happened, but in a world where thousands of Rippers run amok, the agency is proud of what it has done, a pride that emanates from every page of "Between the Lines".  The publication even includes pictures of the hapless Seattle employees diligently looking for weeds and seeds:

One can only speculate as to how much more of this nonsense the Pacific Northwest economy can stand, before the only jobs left are the government workers protecting our "precious bodily fluids". 


BPA and Seattle leaders discussing the purity of the Cedar River watershed?

James Buchal, October 31, 2003

You have permission to reprint this article, and are encouraged to do so. The sooner people figure out what's going on, the quicker we'll have more fish in the rivers.

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