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State Senate ponders renewable energy bill

In a series of committee hearings earlier this month, the Oregon Senate considered SB 373, the Renewable Energy Standard bill proposed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

Speaking at the first such hearing, on March 6, Kulongoski said, 'This bill … is the centerpiece of a five-bill package that will help Oregon accomplish what scientists tell us the whole world must do: shift from using carbon-based sources of energy to cleaner, renewable sources of energy.'

The bill would require utilities that sell more than 1 percent of Oregon's retail electricity to gradually increase the amount of renewable energy in their electricity supply until 2025, when 25 percent of the electricity they sell would have to be from renewable sources.

A 4 percent cost cap also will be included to prevent significant rate increases for consumers. So far, 21 states have passed bills comparable to the RES, including western neighbors Washington, California, Montana and Nevada.

States begin annual hazing of sea lions

For the third straight year, the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife departments are hazing sea lions to deter them from preying on runs of threatened salmon and steelhead below the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.

Using nonlethal deterrents such as crackershells, rubber buckshot and underwater firecrackers, crews will be working from boats daily through May 31 in an effort to drive the marine mammals away from fish congregated below the dam.

The seven-days-a-week schedule marks a significant escalation in the effort to deter predation by sea lions, regional Washington agency wildlife manager Sandra Jonker said in a news release.

Fish managers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho jointly applied last November to National Marine Fisheries Service for permission to use lethal means - if necessary - to remove individual California sea lions that prey on the fish below the dam.

Conservation efforts would be rewarded

Involving private landowners in the species-recovery process is the centerpiece of legislation introduced Feb. 28 by U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

The bipartisan Endangered Species Recovery Act would credit taxpayers who own habitat or incur costs to recover species. The legislation has the support of close to 100 property rights, environmental, resource, and hunting and fishing groups.

Crapo's bill will be sent to the Senate Finance Committee, of which Crapo is a member. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., is one of 16 co-sponsors of Crapo's bill, as are ranking member Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Gordon Smith, R-Ore.

'Over 80 percent of endangered species live on private property, and it makes sense to offer incentives to property owners to recover species,' Crapo said in a statement. 'The top effort to improving species recovery should be the voluntary involvement of landowners.'

Dobson, others target environmental advocate

In a March 1 letter to the National Association of Evangelicals, a laundry list of prominent conservative Christian leaders painted a bull's-eye on the back of Richard Cizik, an NAE vice president who preaches the gospel of global warming as well as that of Christ.

The jeremiad from two dozen of the Christian right's biggest heavyweights - including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, onetime presidential candidate Gary Bauer and Family Research Council's Tony Perkins - characterizes Cizik's environmental advocacy as a costly distraction that is 'dividing and demoralizing' evangelicals.

Cizik, a prominent, politically active evangelical, speaks forcefully of mankind's Christian duty to protect the environment.

- Marty Smith