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Posts published in “Day: December 15, 2008”

Grid 2.0


Kachinas/Linda Watkins

READING The comparisons between this period and the onset of the New Deal are probably overstretched, but some specific counterparts are arising - take for example what you might call Grid 2.0.

The old version (1.0) was the massive damming of the Columbia River, the immense hydropower project that transformed the Northwest. Now, there may be something new. From an Associated Press piece just out: "there’s talk of another major public works project for the Northwest, one that would deliver green wind power to the Interstate 5 corridor and, by some estimates, help create 50,000 jobs."

In theory, it could plug into the current Bonneville Power system and then expand it, dramatically. And the amounts could be substantial; already, as the article notes, enough wind power is being produced to power two Seattles, and twice as much capacity is in the pipeline.

Wyden and the next few years 1

Wyden in Astoria

Wyden in Astoria/Stapilus

BACKGROUND Changes of party control in Congress and changes in party control of the presidency make for big changes in who has at least potential impact in a congressional delegation. The results of the last two elections taken together have made for some large changes in the Northwest delegation, and on balance have strengthened its clout.

As matters stand, the most consequential person in the region's delegation now looks to be Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

First of

three posts.

Those changes in relative influence arise in various ways. Idaho's House delegation probably picked up a little, since one district went Democratic and fell into the majority, while the member in the other stands to gain considerably more force within his smaller Republican caucus. (Whether the Senate delegation is about to gain in influence at this point, or lose, is a tougher call.)

Washington and Oregon, which together now elect (as they have for some time) 10 Democrats and four Republicans to the House, and now have four Democratic senators, there's considerable massed seniority among the majority members, and they'll pick up various chairmanships and useful slots. One, Washington Senator Patty Murray, is in the Senate majority leadership. Another, Representative Norm Dicks from west-Puget area, is among the senior members in the House and one of the most widely respected, notably on defense matters. The Northwest's congressional delegation as a whole probably has not been so strong - from a standpoint of position and seniority - since the 70s.

But Wyden, a senator not especially well known nationally - he seems not to have been much sought out by the cameras and publicity machine - seems positioned to be the single most key player of all. A year from now, he may well be better-known nationally as well, and for substantive reasons. (more…)