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Smith Leads Northwest Delegation Members in Fight to Save Bonneville Power

Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, sent a letter Friday signed by sixteen members of the Pacific Northwest Congressional Delegation urging House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Joe McDade (R-PA) to remove language from the Energy and Water Appropriations Act repealing the current ban on studying the possibility of selling power marketing administrations.

"Bonneville, and the sale of federal power at cost, are important to us and the entire Pacific Northwest. Consequently, we are very interested in any decision on the part of the Administration to pursue any studies on these issues. For us, this is primarily about whether the Administration can use taxpayer or ratepayer funds to pursue policy objectives without the knowledge and consent of Congress," the Members wrote.

"If the Administration is interested in pursuing those policy objectives, they should submit a budget request and suggested language to repeal existing prohibitions on such studies. This would allow an open debate regarding the specifics and merits of proposed studies and help to assure that the studies are conducted in an unbiased and objective manner," the Members wrote.

"We assure you and Members of the Committee that the Pacific Northwest delegation is very aware of the need for Bonneville to become more efficient, effective and competitive. For the past few years, the region has been working together to address this issue and has made significant progress," the Members wrote.

"For these reasons, we are opposed to the language in the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill for FY 1999 that repeals the prohibitions on studying the power marketing administrations and would urge you to recede to the Senate in conference," the Members wrote.

The Senate-passed version of the Energy and Water Appropriations Act does not contain the provision in question. The House-Senate Conference Committee will meet to reconcile their respective bills in September.

Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District — which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon — in the U.S. House of Representatives.