30,000 -- That's the high estimate for how many jobs Washington state could lose by 2009 if President Bush enacts his plan to match Bonneville Power Administration electricity rates to the national market. The job-loss figure was calculated by Robert McCullough, a Portland-based energy expert, and it was included in an open letter to the president from the reliably conservative Association of Washington Business. At the very least, McCullough found that 21,000 jobs would be lost if the changes go through.
"This would be a job-killer," says Don Brunell, the AWB's president. "The president needs to rethink his strategy because it would cripple Washington's basic industries."
Brunell says electricity is the one business expense in which Washington is cheaper than the national average.
26 -- That's the percentage of normal snowpack currently in the watersheds of Washington state. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, this means the state will need three times the normal precipitation for the remainder of the snow collection season, which can last into May.
Anyone who remembers the drought of 2001 knows that low snowpack will impact electrical rates, as less water is available to go over the dams and generate power. So many -- including the AWB's Brunell -- fear that low snowpack and changes in the BPA system could be an ugly double-whammy for the Northwest's economy.
While new records are being set all over Oregon, Washington and Idaho for low snowpacks at particular measuring sites, watersheds in the American Southwest and Great Basin are experiencing record highs. According to NRCS, the snowpack in the Cascades of Washington and Oregon is anywhere from 15 percent to 54 percent of normal; in the Sierras of California and Nevada, snowpacks are between 130 percent and 160 percent of normal. You know how those Californians always want our water? By August, we might be wondering how we can tap into theirs.
Do You Feel a Draft? -- We know, President Bush promised there would be no draft. But then, he promised Iraq had WMDs, too. If all that talk about Iran has you wondering who's going to fight all these wars, the Peace and Justice Action League has an event for you. The "Draft and Conscientious Objection Workshop" is next Thursday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 pm in the Community Building (35 W. Main Ave.). Draft counseling started during Vietnam, when potential draftees were desperate to learn more about their rights. Cris Currie, a long-time draft counselor, will lead the discussion.