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Posts published in “Day: December 4, 2007”

An OR transport package

Pay attention, we're shifting states on this one: Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski is proposing - or did in a speech at the Oregon Leadership Summit - a big transportation funding package, and said he would be willing to spend plenty of his "political capital" on it.

Over here, the red lights started blinking. Politicians who talk about spending political capital on something (remember President Bush and Social Security?) often wind up with sticker shock. More than that, we're reminded of the mixed experience Kulongoski's Washington counterparts have had on the subject: Pluses and glory in 2005, but their heads handed to them this year. A Kulongoski-Gregoire meetup on the funding of transportation with political capital might be used.

None of which is to deny the need, which is real in Oregon almost as much as it is in Washington. But caution signs would be advisable on approach.

Idaho nuke 2: Weightier

We have tended to be dismissive, for now at least, of the reported plans for for nuclear power generation from a to-be-built plant near Bruneau. The whole thing simply has looked unrealistic: A coalition of backers that easily could fall apart over time; unrealistic expectations about how quickly the work could be approved and completed; and so on.

Word today about a proposed nuclear plant in northern Payette County, on the other hand, looks a good deal more solid.

The big reason is the financing. Nuclear plants ain't cheap, and a super-solid financial base has to be a prerequisite for one. In this case, it would be there: The builder would be MidAmerican Nuclear Energy Co., which is new but which is owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings, controlled by Berkshire Hathaway - which is to say, Warren Buffett, who is on the very short list of the richest Americans. MidAmerican Energy, which is based in Iowa, has assets of almost $35 billion. So we're talking about realistic financial capacity.

Their language is a good deal more modest, too, than what we heard about of Bruneau. A quote in the Idaho Statesman was that "We're in a very preliminary due diligence process to look at a potential energy project in Payette County" - which seems a fair take. It is undertaking some tests, but hasn't bought land and won't decide whether to proceed until some time next year. (So it may or may not be pursued at all.)

It sounds deliberate, the way a nuclear plant builder might be expected to sound.