May 20, 2019
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Snake River dam removal would be a serious problem for hydropower and ag, with little help for salmon and orcas

With concern growing for orca whale populations in the Puget Sound region, some are calling for breaching of four dams on the lower Snake River.

At a meeting last week on the issue, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse and about 100 attendees explored the costs of that idea, and whether it would have meaningful benefits to struggling killer whale populations.

The conclusion: "Taking out the lower Snake River dams would have consequences that would be difficult to overcome, while offering little help to salmon and orcas," The Tri-City Herald reports.

Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center cited scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who said breaching the dams would have a marginal effect on orcas -- the Snake River ranks ninth in its significance as a watershed for orcas.

“The (orcas’) main habitat, their most critical habitat, is the Puget Sound,” said AWB Vice President for Government Affairs Gary Chandler, who is a member of the state’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force. “What are we doing about the water quality of the Puget Sound?”

Newhouse said tearing out the dams would be devastating to the way of life in Eastern Washington. The river is a major shipping channel for agricultural and other products, with tonnage shipped on the river remaining stable over the past decade. Replacing the 3.5 million tons of cargo moved in just nine months on the river would take 135,000 rail cars, and that capacity is not available.

Last week's meeting was important, Newhouse said, to establish basic facts about the dams, salmon and orcas.

“We’re outnumbered by the other side of the state where people see dam breaching as the obvious solution,” Newhouse said.

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Housing Forum
Moving Backward

Gov. Inslee is wrong to flip-flop on liquefied natural-gas facility in Tacoma

By The Seatte Times Editorial Board

Gov. Jay Inslee is doing an outstanding job staying on message in his presidential campaign, making climate change his signature issue and a focus of the primaries.

But Inslee went too far last week when he pulled support for a project in Tacoma that will cut emissions and create jobs.

Early in his governorship, Inslee championed the Tacoma liquefied natural-gas (LNG) facility. That pragmatic, nuanced approach provided certainty for local companies to commit more than $500 million to a project that will substantially reduce emissions from ships sailing between Puget Sound and Alaska.

That stance no longer jibes with the current mantra of his far-left environmental base, which now advocates for halting additional fossil-fuel consumption. It also had put Inslee in conflict with one of the state's wealthiest tribes, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which opposed the project.

Moving goal posts late in the game may discourage companies from innovating and investing in cleaner ways of doing business, at least in Washington....

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
A New Challenge for Border Towns

Lawmakers changed the sales tax exemption. Will Oregon residents still want to shop Tri-Cities?

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Of all the new, last-minute tax measures approved by the Legislature two weeks ago, one in particular likely will cause headaches for Mid-Columbia retailers in coming months.

Oregon residents will no longer get a sales tax exemption right away at a Tri-Cities checkout counter.

Thanks to ESSB 5997, out-of-state shoppers will have to pay the sales tax upfront, save their receipts and file for a one-time, yearly reimbursement from the state of Washington.

They will qualify only if the amount they are requesting exceeds $25.

Clay Hill, government affairs director for the Association of Washington Business, said approval of ESSB 5997 was "especially disheartening" because there was a unified voice of opposition by business and retail organizations.

Democratic lawmakers are betting they will raise $53 million for a two-year budget from out-of-state shoppers who don't turn in their paperwork or who don't meet the $25 minimum threshold.

But it is the border communities that will pay the biggest price for the tax grab, and it isn't right to put the burden primarily on the edges of the state.

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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