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Guest Editorial

Energy costs focus of Friday's meeting

Here in the Pacific Northwest we are fortunate to have access to the nation's largest source of renewable energy - hydropower. Our dams provide the clean, renewable energy that local families, farms and job-creating businesses depend on. Protecting our dams is a priority.

This Friday, July 7, I will be participating in a House Water and Power Subcommittee hearing in the Tri-Cities on "Electricity Costs and Salmon: Finding a Balance." The hearing will be used to gain input as Congress works to protect hydropower, improve energy policies and bring common sense to the Endangered Species Act. I encourage those interested in dams and Northwest power issues to attend.

The hearing, which is open to the public, will be held at the Gjerde Multipurpose Facility at Columbia Basin College in Pasco on July 7th at 9 a.m. Columbia Basin College is located at 2600 N. 20th Avenue.

At this meeting, selected panelists will testify about dams, salmon and energy costs in the region. Others who are interested in sharing their thoughts are welcome to submit written comments to the Subcommittee either at the hearing, by mail or fax to: Chairman George Radanovich; House Subcommittee on Water and Power; 1522 Longworth House Office Building; Washington, D.C. 20515 (Fax: 202-226-6953).

Northwest ratepayers spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on salmon recovery - making it the largest endangered species program anywhere. Costs associated with Endangered Species Act compliance have risen steadily in recent years - contributing to rising power rates. These added costs are passed on to consumers, whether the fish recovery efforts they fund are cost effective or not.

For example, the court imposed spilling of water through our dams in late summer for Snake River Fall Chinook costs up to $3.85 million per listed fish. This defies common sense. I believe we must shine a light on just how much litigation-driven fish spending impacts our economy, while doing little to actually recover salmon.

I look forward to participating in this hearing because protecting our dams and ending policies that waste money, increase power rates and fail to achieve recovery results is critical to our economy and our way of life.

Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's 4th Congressional District.

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