Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
"Won't Get Fooled Again", The Who
On January 10, 2005, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski vowed in his "State of the State Speech" that he will "not sit by while the federal government attempts to dismantle our environmental legacy, undermine our values, and erode our sovereignty". He promised to extend and expand Oregon's decade-long practice of fielding taxpayer-funded attorneys to increase the waste of water at the federally-operated dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, thereby raising electric bills throughout the Region.
Kulongoski bragged about Oregon's effort last summer to force dam operators to continue wasteful spill even after roughly 95% of the fish had left the River. Computer models hard-wired to exaggerate the alleged benefits of this spill predicted survival changes so tiny that the cost was perhaps $8-9 million for each additional endangered fish. (These are the same fish that the Tribes sell off the back of pickup trucks along the River for $2 a pound.) Back in 2001, under the same litigation pressure, BPA spilled over $1.5 billion of water over the dams, a critical factor in raising electric rates in the Pacific Northwest so high that they now exceed rates charged in Midwestern states that mine and burn coal for power.
Kulongoski offered his harshest words to attack a 2004 Bush Administration opinion, issued under the Endangered Species Act, which had concluded that dam operations do not jeopardize the continued existence of salmon. He complained that the biological opinion does not purport to require dam operators to single-handedly "recover" salmon (now returning at the highest levels ever counted). In fact, under the Endangered Species Act, recovery planning is supposed to examine all impacts on salmon, not just dams. But that would require examining decisions authorizing Kulongoski's political allies to kill up to a third of some allegedly endangered salmon runs for commercial gain.
Kulongoski also complains that the Bush Administration "should never have walked away from the Kyoto Treaty" on global warming. In fact, the Senate voted 95-0 not to ratify the Treaty, because it would cripple the U.S. economy while giving a pass to the fastest growing polluters, like China and India. Since there is no evidence that the Kyoto Treaty would have any measurable effect on global temperatures, support for the Treaty is best understood as one of the articles of faith for Oregon's state religion: pagan-style nature worship. As Kulongoski thundered: "Facts [about global warming] aren't the issue. The policy is the issue."
Perhaps Kulongoski's biggest lie came when he complained about the Bush Administration's repeal of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, an action taken in compliance with a federal court ruling that the Clinton Administration had violated federal law to jam the rule through. Quite the opposite of "eroding our sovereignty", the Bush Administration now proposes to let each State decide whether to continue the idiotic policy of demolishing forest roads and putting the forests off-limits, the better to burn them to the ground.
Ten billion dollars worth of Oregon timber has gone up in flames while lunatics declare that we should fight fires with hand tools in roadless areas. Taxing Oregon's citizens to produce $9 million fish so that the Tribes can sell them for $30 apiece is also crazy, and has destroyed the comparative energy cost advantage that used to fuel family-wage jobs in the Northwest. Slowly but surely, Kulongoski and his lunatic Leftist allies are destroying the jobs of the Oregonians who actually produce things, while creating jobs for tax-supported parasites who produce only paper. And in each election, ordinary Oregonians get fooled again.
© James Buchal, January 11, 2005
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