0

Hastings Visits White Salmon, Offers Views On Local Issues

Question and answer session with U.S. Rep.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings visited White Salmon on Monday, part of a swing through Klickitat County that included stops in Goldendale as well.

In a visit to Skyline Hospital, Hastings discussed the Medicare reform bill and the health of rural hospitals with Skyline Administrator Mike Madden and Dr. Dave Hindahl and Don Schaack, a member of the Skyline Hospital Board of Commissioners.

Madden said Hastings has been supportive of the health care industry.

"He has always been good for rural hospitals," Madden said. "He's quite involved with health issues, and we've never had any problem with him responding to us. It's nice to have someone in there who understands the issues and is accessible."

After touring Skyline, Congressman Hastings visited The Enterprise for an interview on a variety of topics.

THE ENTERPRISE:

How did you get the name "Doc"?

DOC HASTINGS:

It's strictly a nickname. My given name is Richard, but my older brother couldn't say "Richard" when he was young. He called me "Docca," and it just stuck. It's been with me all my life.

THE ENTERPRISE:

Do you plan to hold any town hall meetings in this area? If so, when are they going to be?

HASTINGS:

Yes. I can't say when, but there will be one in the White Salmon-Bingen area. Or maybe in Lyle. It hasn't been decided yet.

THE ENTERPRISE:

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird has proposed adding an additional 20 miles to the White Salmon River's "Wild & Scenic River" status. Is this a designation you support?

HASTINGS:

I'm a little apprehensive about the long-term aspect of that. Wild & Scenic designations have proven to be restrictive in nature. I'm not sure how it will play out downstream. So I'm a little apprehensive at this point.

THE ENTERPRISE:

Another controversial issue in this area is the proposed Klickitat Rail-Trail. Some are for it, and some are opposed. What is your view on the issue?

HASTINGS:

I know they're trying to work out the issues on it. The Forest Service has jurisdiction, and I'd like to see the state of Washington be the administrator. The state is more responsive to the needs of the people on these projects.

I have a real concern for property rights. These things have to be worked out to everybody's satisfaction. I have a great deal of sympathy and empathy for the property owners.

THE ENTERPRISE:

The fate of Condit Dam -- whether to maintain it or remove it -- has been a hot issue for years. What is your perspective on this debate?

HASTINGS:

My view is, there are a couple issues. PacifiCorp says it's too costly, but the PUDs -- at least the Klickitat PUD -- has looked at this, and they would have an interest in this if PacifiCorp gives it up. The question then and the debate is how much it costs to provide fish passage. If it's less than $30 million, the PUDs might be interested. Having said that, that dam has been in place for 90 years. The real concern about removing that is the silt that has built up for 90 years. Plus those who have homes up there and wetlands up there all of those need to be fully explored.

Also, we do see from time to time that we have to have power. I'm not necessarily anxious to see a power generating facility removed.

If the life of a salmon is five years and the dam has been there for a 90-year time period, that's 18 generations of fish. Just for the sake of hoping the fish will come back, I question removing the dam to help upstream fish while harming downstream fish.

THE ENTERPRISE:

The House recently voted for changes to the Head Start program. Were you in support of this bill?

HASTINGS:

The Head Start provision called for a pilot program, and I supported that reauthorization. The motivation is to get as much education to younger people as we possibly can. This is an effort to see if there is a different way to fund that. If we're educating kids, it seems to me the department that ought to be in charge of that is the Department of Education.

THE ENTERPRISE:

Aluminum plants have been hit hard in this area. Do you see any hope for a turnaround that may get people back to work?

HASTINGS:

The aluminum industry relies on two things. Right now, there is a depressed market. And aluminum manufacturing needs low-cost energy. Now the Bonneville Power Administration is backing away from the 15 percent increase they were planning, now it's down to five percent and I hope they'll get down to no rate increase.

We have to get back to the point where the BPA has resolved its obligations. We have to get that, and hopefully the markets will change for aluminum.

THE ENTERPRISE:

Tribal rights have sometimes been a source of friction over the years, with the sale of fireworks from various tribally-owned locations within the city limits of Bingen and White Salmon, and with the in-lieu fishing sites along the Columbia River. Do you have any comment on this issue?

HASTINGS:

We have to understand that we did enter into treaties with the tribes, and we are a nation of laws. I don't see any sweeping changes; rather we should deal with this on a state-by-state basis. I think there has to be more of an open process. The Corps of Engineers is the agency that administers the in-lieu sites, and the Corps should be more responsive to local needs.

THE ENTERPRISE:

Are there any other interesting issues coming up in this Congress you wish to mention?

HASTINGS:

I think the timber industry has been hurt pretty badly due to the Endangered Species Act. We're talking about natural forests that are designed to be multiple purpose. The ESA unfortunately trumped that, and as a result the timber industry is a shadow of what it used to be, and that's too bad. SDS has private lands, that's why they are still viable.

There will be an attempt again this year to amend the ESA to put good science and sound science into the plan. If we can pass a bill like that, the president would sign it.

THE ENTERPRISE:

It's still more than a year away, but have you decided if you'll be seeking another two-year term in 2004?

HASTINGS:

I haven't made an announcement, but I don't see myself not running.

THE ENTERPRISE:

Those two-year periods go by quickly. Does it sometimes seem like you're always having to be campaigning?

HASTINGS:

I see nothing wrong with a short term. The temptation to get out of touch with a longer term would be pretty high. I knew what I was getting into when I started, and I'm pretty happy with it.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment