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Rep. Doc Hastings leaving Congress; enviros say ‘good riddance’

CONSERVATION —  Some conservationists didn't hide their happiness to hear that Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., is retiring after 20 years in Congress, an unexpected announcement that drew both cheers and jeers Thursday in the nation’s capital.

As chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, he's been a barrier to many efforts championed by environmentalists, especially those who objected to his persistent moves to open more public lands to development and to change laws dealing with endangered species, among other things.

“It’s really good riddance,” said Athan Manuel, director of the lands protection program for the Sierra Club.

Click “continue reading” for the full story from the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

 

Holmquist Newby may run for Congress

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry said she has formed a committee to explore whether to run for the congressional seat opening up in Central Washington's 4th District.

Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, said she plans to visit “with key leaders throughout the district… to assess the viability of my candidacy.”

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings announced Thursday morning that he would not seek re-election to the seat he has held for 20 years. Holmquist Newbry said shortly afterwards she had not made a decision on whether to run “at this time.”

Friday she said she has formed an exploratory committee with several key advisers, including Yakima Mayor Micah Cawley.  Under federal election law, a person can receive and spend money before becoming an official candidate by forming an exploratory committee.

First elected to the House in 2000, Holmquist Newbry was elected to the Senate in 2006, where she now serves as the chairwoman of the Commerce and Labor Committee. She recently removed her name from the list of senators on the website for the Majority Coalition Caucus, telling the Seattle Times she was protesting decisions by some of the more moderate members of the caucus. 

The 4th is a solidly Republican district that routinely gave Hastings at least 60 percent of the vote in his re-election campaigns. Also considering the race is rancher Clint Didier, an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate and state lands commissioner, who may make an announcement on Monday.

Columbia River Treaty hearing set in Pasco Monday

RIVERS — Discussions on revising the Columbia River Treaty are picking up, as the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee plans a field hearing Monday, Dec. 9, in Pasco to learn about regional impacts of the treaty with Canada.

Changes in the treaty could have profound impacts on hydropower management and fishing.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the committee, has concerns about the upcoming renegotiation of the treaty and the United States’ draft recommendations for possible changes.

He scheduled the hearing for 9 a.m. in the Pasco City Council Chambers, 525 N. Third Ave.

Read on for more from the Associated Press:

Is Doc Hastings eying House Oversight chair?

Politico's Rachel Bade reports this morning U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, may be considering a slot as chairman of the House of Representative Oversight Committee, to be vacated by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at the end of next year.

“Call this Boehner ally and personal friend the wild card,” Bade writes, introducing the nine-term House Republican who was the last to defeat current Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in a Congressional race when he wrangled the District 4 seat from Inslee, the incumbent, in 1994.

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Hastings introduces permanent sales tax deduction bill

Another volley has been launched at the temporary status of the sales tax deduction on federal income tax returns. Once again, it comes from a Washington lawmaker.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, filed a bill with Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., Tuesday that would make permanent a sales tax deduction written into the federal tax code. Current law, solidified in last year's fiscal cliff deal, extends the deduction through next year only. Meanwhile, taxpayers enjoy the income tax deduction on a permanent basis.

Like others before him, including Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who authored similar legislation across Capitol Hill in January, Hastings argued the issue is one of fairness for states that collect no income tax.

“Residents of states that do not collect income taxes, like my home state of Washington, should be allowed to continue to deduct their state sales taxes from their federal income tax obligations each year without relying on short term extensions of the law,” Hastings said in a prepared statement Tuesday announcing the bill.

Hastings wants public to know costs of saving salmon

RIVERS — The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing in Pasco toda on “save our dams” legislation introduced by Congressman Doc Hastings.

The Tri-City Herald reports the legislation would prohibit federal money from being used to remove hydropower dams without specific authorization by Congress. 

The bill also would:

  • Prevent federal grants from being used by groups suing the federal government to breach dams.
  • Make it clear that hydropower is a renewable energy source, just like wind and solar power.
  • Tell consumers about how much laws to protect fish and wildlife add to their power bills.

Shouldn't the bill also assure the public knows the value of fish and wildlife lost to power production, and the associated health issues, and the cost to subsidize the barging industry and the federal cost to replace the dams and deal with the silt issues that will come to a head in the next few decades?

There's a cost to everything. To peg fish and wildlife as the villain is disingenuous.

Rep. Hastings targets Endangered Species Act

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Rep. Dod Hastings, R-WA, says he's ready to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, according to this McClatchy report.

GOP plan would open more public land to off-road vehicles

PUBLIC LANDS — Congressman Doc Hastings, R-WA, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is promoting a Republican plan that would remove restrictions on motorized access to 43 million acres of public land nationwide.

A tip of the hat to the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers organization for trekking to Washington, D.C., to let Congress know that's a lame idea.

Read the story from McClatchy Newspapers.

Rep. Hastings vows to block breaching Snake River dams

RIVERS — Speaking to the  Pasco-Kennewick Rotary Club on Wednesday, Congressman Doc Hastings, R-WA,  said he’ll use his position as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee to block any bills related to breaching lower Snake River dams.

Hastings said salmon runs are recovering under current management practices and dam breaching is the last resort.

The Tri-City Herald reports Hastings as saying he’s concerned that tearing down any Snake River dam puts every other dam at risk.

Environmentalists favor removing dams to restore Snake River salmon runs.

WA congresspersons to Pentagon: Keep tanker timeline

Five members of Washington’s congressional delegation joined an effort to keep the Pentagon from delaying its selection the builder of the next air refueling tanker by asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates not to extend the timeline for making that choice.
Without mentioning either company by name, they are supporting the Boeing Co., and trying to close out rival Airbus.
Republican Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings, and Democrats Jay Inslee, Adam Smith and Rick Larsen are among 16 members of the House urging Gates not to vary from the 75-day selection deadline announced in February. Their stated reasons include eight years of delay already in replacing the KC-135s, and the additional costs to taxpayers.

The KC-135, which was designed by Boeing in the 1950s and built through the early 1960s, is the backbone of the U.S. Air Force tanker fleet and the plane flown by the 92nd Air Refueling Wing and the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing, both based at Fairchild Air Force Base.
Finding a replacement for part of the KC-135 fleet started some nine years ago, and has been marked by fraud, collusion, political bickering and pandering, mistakes and missteps. Meanwhile, the 135s keep flying in two war zones and for a variety of other military missions around the globe.
The process to select a new tanker is a subject of intense interest, the members of Congress wrote, but “the need for new tankers is long overdue.”
A consortium that included Northrop Grumman and EADS, the manufacturer of Airbus, beat out Boeing for an estimated $40 billion contract in early 2008. That award was thrown out a few months later after Boeing protested and the Government Accountability Office found problems with the selection process. New specifications were announced in February and Boeing notified the Air Force eight days later it would enter a new bid, again using a version of its 767 jetliner.
Four days later, Northrop Grumman said it wasn’t entering the competition. In late March, however, EADS said it would submit a proposal if the deadline was extended and “there is a fair chance to win.”