By Theresa Woelk

Staff writer

HERMISTON — U.S. Rep. Greg Walden was a sought-after man when he came to town Friday.

Everyone wanted to talk to him and they had one major issue on their minds ? energy.

The Hood River Republican is well aware of the current energy problems and the probable complications in the not-so-distant future.

“We are looking at one of the lowest snow packs in the last 50 years,” he told a crowd of people gathered to hear him at the Pheasant Cafe and Lounge.

Walden noted that the snowpack was only 60 inches at Mount Hood Meadows the last time he and his son went skiing and it usually averages 180 inches.

He pointed out that the situation will probably create huge fish versus power versus irrigation issues this summer.

“We haven’t begun to see the problems we’re going to face,” Walden added.

He estimated it would take precipitation at 300 percent of the normal March average to make up for the lack of snow.

This type of precipitation would create terrible flooding around the state and still not solve the problem.

Walden noted that people need to look toward diversifying types of energy and building more power suppliers.

“The issue is how do we get more power generation online,” he commented.

Walden, who was recently appointed to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said there are quite a few power projects in the works but the problem will be surviving until that time.

He suggested that the government promote conservation and look at extended tax credits on renewable energy sources, such as wind.

Vice President Dick Cheney is the chairman of a committee looking into various alternative forms of energy.

The report analyzing everything from nuclear to wind power should be out in two to three months.

Walden said he was encouraged about President George W. Bush’s positive relations with Mexico, which could offer much needed sources of natural gas and oil.

He also gave the group positive news about farm issues and taxes.

Walden told the audience he expects Congress to renew the Farm Bill, which should provide much needed aid to the farming community.

“When I hear people talking about a possible recession, I am quick to tell them that people in my area never got out of the last one,” he commented.

Walden predicted Americans would see tax rate reductions and they would be retroactive. Bush is expected to announce his tax plan to Congress on today.

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