NW Lawmakers Give Feds Warning About How to Handle BPA

By Tom Bacon

Northwest politicians regardless of party affiliation, seem to be united in warning the huge Federal Department of Energy to tread lightly in exercising new tighter control of the Bonneville Power Administration. Consider these two lawmakers on opposite sides of the philosophical fence talking about fallout from a scathing report on the B-P-A's discrimination against hiring veterans and of retaliation against whistleblowers.

First, Washington Republican Representative Doc Hastings, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, who said "There should not be an open-ended takeover by the Department of Energy." Hastings said the energy department should focus on fixing the internal personnel policies, but then back off, leaving the agency free to provide cheap power to the region.

And across the Columbia River, liberal Democratic senator Ron Wyden checked in with an echo of Hastings' sentiment. Wyden said "This cannot be used as a Trojan horse to take Bonneville out of our region, to take over its independence."

The BPA general counsel, the top lawyer for the big agency, has lost some of his independence in the shakeup. Randy Roach, a Spokane native and honors graduate of Gonzaga law school, now has the Deparrtment of Energy general counsel looking over his shoulder under a D-o-E directive issued last week.

The parent agency has demanded that Roach draw up a new plan to assure that he's in compliance with federal law and DOE nondiscrimination policies in everything the power agency does. And critics of the Energy Department are puzzled by the department's finding new jobs in Washington D-C for  the two top executives of BPA who were summarily suspended earlier this month.
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