GOP's Titanic Idea: Sell Oregon's Water

File under "Yeah, THIS Is Gonna Fly": Oregon Senate Republicans want to sell Oregon water to "water-poor" out-of-state customers.

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File under "Yeah, THIS Is Gonna Fly": Oregon Senate Republicans want to sell Oregon water to "water-poor" out-of-state customers.


Oregonian blogger Jeff Mapes reported yesterday that the Republicans unveiled this bright idea in their legislative agenda, published earlier this week.

"Northwesterners have always had a healthy fear of their abundant rivers being sucked dry in a Los Angeles-style water raid (anyone seen [the movie] Chinatown recently?), so the issue usually only comes up when politicians are fighting some outsider expressing interest in the region's water," Mapes writes.

"But state Sen. David Nelson, R-Pendleton, who convinced the Senate R caucus to take up this idea, insists that times have changed and that Oregon could be a Saudi Arabia of water. 'We wouldn't allow them to take it,' he says of other regions. 'We would sell it to them.' And he adds that it could make the kind of profits that will help support a level of state services that the taxpayers aren't willing to fund."

Any water-sale deal would have to be cleared by a host of state and federal agencies, and of course environmental and conservation groups would fight it to the death.

Still, Nelson thinks it's a promising idea, Mapes writes:

"Nelson said he thinks Oregon still has plenty of water downstream from the Columbia River dams that could be sent - likely by tanker - to out-of-state and even foreign users facing increasingly severe shortages. An international market is being developed, he said, and Oregon ought to get into it.

"'I look at it as a vital commodity just being flushed down into the ocean,' Nelson said, 'and we're not getting any use of it.'"

The Eye strongly suspects Nelson's harebrained idea will get flushed as soon as the legislature convenes - if not sooner.

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