Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Angler leaving no tracks -- but a rather large wake behind him

The fourth part in a series by Washington Post's Barton Gellman and Jo Becker discusses Dick Cheney's impact on the environment through his direct intervention in agency decision making. In particular, Cheney's push for increased irrigation access for farmers in Oregon's Klamath River Basin led to a major fish kill over the short term and a long term impact on fish stocks

But why did Cheney even bother with an issue like irrigation when there were more pressing matters at hand? Certainly the loss of Oregon by Bush/Cheney in 2000 by a very narrow margin, as cited in the article, was a likely motivator. Farmers and ranchers are more likely to be conservative voters, and ensuring their success through access to irrigation waters would improve the chances of taking Oregon in a subsequent bid for re-election.

Were there other factors in play, though?

Charles Swindells, a Bush Pioneer and frequent donor to the Republican Party and candidates, hails from Portland Oregon; at the time of his appointment by Bush to an ambassadorship to New Zealand, Swindells was the chair of U.S. Trust Corporation. U.S. Trust specializes in wealth management for the wealthy and ultra-wealthy, according to their website. Did Swindells have any influence on Cheney's efforts, perhaps to the benefit of Swindells' friends and clients in Oregon?

Or perhaps this was a squeeze play on donor Frank Dulcich? Dulcich's Pacific ocean fishing business was likely impacted by damage inflicted inland on the Klamath River Basin, although at the time federal scientists had not found a solid explanation for the decrease in key fish stocks along the Oregon coast. Dulcich increased his donations to the Republican Party and Republican candidates dramatically during 2000 and forward, eventually receiving assistance from President Bush to the tune of nearly one million dollars in federal assistance to treat wastewater on the Oregon coast.

Funny how the "Angler", who is not known for his fishing prowress, has such a way with fish, hmm?

Edit: I just had a passing thought after hitting Publish Post. This is small fry for the Angler, these few votes and these few dollars in donations.

What if the real ploy here had little to do with fish, and more to do with energy? We've suspected for some time now that there was a much larger effort to manipulate the entire energy market, beginning with whatever was schemed up during Cheney's Energy Task Force meetings, and not the least of which was reducing the likelihood of certain criminal investigations and prosecutions related to Enron's scams across the country, by way of inserting loyal Bushies in the U.S. Attorneys' offices.

But what if there were many other opportunities to mess with like reducing energy production to drive up prices? The Klamath River is home to several dams owned and operated by PacifCorp; without doing the legwork at this late (early?) hour, I'll presume that the energy these dams produced was sold into the western grid that served California. At the time that Cheney was making his phone calls to the Department of Interior's lower levels, ostensibly to help out farmers needing irrigation water, Enron was manipulating the availability of electricity into California. If there is not enough water in the Klamath River basin for fish, was there also a correspondingly lower amount of electricity generated? Was PacifiCorp put on the block and sold because of the anticipated cost to improve fish ladders after the fish kill -- and who else bid on Pacificorp besides Warren Buffet's MidAmerican Energy Holdings?

There is so much more here to investigate than dead fish and a lousy fisherman.

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