Saturday, July 07, 2007

Oregon Oasis Project Wrap Up from the NW Fishletter

In a July 2 article in the Northwest Fishletter, a service of Energy NewsData, an intelligence source on energy policy, market news, and resource development for the western US and Canada, Bill Rudolph presents an extremely interesting report on the demise of the legislation and the views of several of the movers and shakers involved. I found particularly interesting the quotes from John DiLorenzo, an eminent Oregon attorney, concerning one of the reasons for the governor's threatened veto:
"According to testimony from Portland attorney John DiLorenzo, special counsel to the Umatilla Electric Coop and general counsel to the Oregon Oasis Project, the Governor's office told him that it could not support the bill because that would conflict with a 1992 agreement with other states that called for "no net loss of flows." DiLorenzo said an email from Mike Carrier, Kulongoski's natural resource policy advisor, informed him that any agreement, "no matter how minor," would trigger expensive litigation among the states. Later, DiLorenzo was given two documents that represented the agreement. The first was a December 1993 letter signed by all four Northwest governors suggesting that the states should defer to the NW Power Planning Council to propose a cogent policy for fish recovery that included federal agencies. The second document was a January 1994 letter from Oregon's two Council members asking that the state's Water Resources Commission adopt rules temporarily restricting withdrawals from the Columbia. But members, Ted Hallock and Angus Duncan, also said in the letter they weren't "proposing that the state maintain an indefinite moratorium on the issuance of new water rights in the Columbia-Snake system." "As best as we can tell," DiLorenzo said, "there is no memorialized 'deal' among the states, and if there is an oral understanding, it is a bad deal for Oregon given the fact that Washington taps approximately 32 percent of the total withdrawals, Idaho approximately 52 percent and Oregon withdraws only 11 percent."
It is a very interesting article, well worth the time of anyone interested in the mighty Columbia.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Veto threat scuttles Oasis Bill"

Capital Press Staff Writer MITCH LIES is reporting the Oasis bill is dead.
Under threat of a veto, the Oregon Senate this week buried the Oasis Project and with it hopes of Eastern Oregon farmers to revitalize a farm economy suffering for lack of water. The action by Senate President Peter Courtney to stall a bill authorizing summer irrigation water withdrawals from the Columbia River came in the wake of a veto letter sent by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to the Salem Democrat.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Pro Oregon Oasis Project Editorial from the East Oregonian

The Oregon Oasis bill appears to be stuck in the Oregon State Senate, with a threatened veto by the governor if it makes it out. The Klamath Basin Crisis group, a pro-irrigation group in Oregon, has reproduced an editorial from the East Oregonian on their website website.
"Assuming the bill makes it through the Senate with amendments, Gov. Ted Kulongoski has said he will veto the bill. We in Eastern Oregon think that would be a big mistake. We know the governor doesn't like this bill because it doesn't fit with his vision for aquifer recharge. We know he worries about the equity of diverting more water from the Columbia River at the risk of offending neighbors in Washington and Idaho, as well as the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

But Gov. Kulongoski hasn't done much to move this region in the direction of aquifer recharge. And while the state of Washington moves ahead with long-range planning to divert more water from the Columbia, we in Eastern Oregon can ill afford to worry about offending the fine residents of the Evergreen State."