October 7, 2010
Lynne Lynch/Columbia Basin Herald
Glen Stockwell talks about an idea to fast track the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project during a recent Energy Summit in Moses Lake.
"Stockwell wants Irrigation Project Fast-Tracked"
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Columbia Basin Herald
By Lynne Lynch
Herald staff writer |
Ritzville’s Glen Stockwell is pushing to have President Barack Obama fast-track the completion of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project.
He believes Obama wants to imitate late President Franklin D. Roosevelt and should be allowed to do so by taking on the project’s completion.
Roosevelt authorized the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam during the Great Depression, creating nearly 8,000 jobs during the peak of construction.
Stockwell is a three-time returning candidate to the Ninth District state representative race.
He’s run as both a Democrat and a Republican for office and currently lists himself as an “R & D” on his Web site. He also calls himself a nonconformist.
This year, he is running against Republican Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax.
Less than a month before the election, he’s visited various entities to promote the project’s completion.
So far, Grant County commissioners and the Town of Lind agreed upon their support to finish the irrigation project.
The Columbia Basin Irrigation Project currently waters about 65 percent of the 1 million acres of farmland first allowed by Congress throughout Eastern Washington, including Grant County and Adams County.
This week Stockwell visited the Grant County Board of Commissioners and the Grant County PUD Board of Commissioners.
Stockwell got Grant County commissioners to agree to write a letter of support for the project Monday.
Later that day, Grant PUD commission president Bob Bernd agreed to take Stockwell’s request for a support letter into advisement.
Commissioner Tom Flint said he supported Stockwell’s efforts, as he has been a project proponent for some time.
Stockwell said he asked the Washington State Republican Party to draft a support letter.
He explained his father was a historian and taught him there were windows of opportunity if people would recognize them.
Stockwell thinks they should work on organizing a regional summit and take it to the president.
Then Obama can issue an executive order to finish the project.
His plan is to form a bipartisan group of 11 congressional leaders and hold five summits.
The last summit would be held at Lake Roosevelt, where the president and congressional representatives would meet and the executive order would be signed.
On Tuesday, Stockwell explained he wasn’t willing to tell anyone where the project money was coming from until some non-revocable agricultural trust accounts are developed.
“The problem I see with government, is that it’s been the largest roadblock with this project,” he commented.
Others have made additional revenue because 3 percent of the water that was due to the plateau wasn’t pumped, he claims.
As a result, every dam south of Grand Coulee has made 3 percent of those revenues, he claims.
“Money tells you there was a decision made to throw this project to the wolves and to never complete it,” he said.
Mike Schwisow, government relations director with the Columbia Basin Development League, said he understands Stockwell is supporting the project’s completion and asserts it can be done without public funding.
Schwisow said he has no comment until he can see specific details of the plan.
The league is working through a specific identified project on how the project gets done.=
By William L. Spence
of the Tribune
Ritzville businessman Glen Stockwell is challenging incumbent Rep. Joe Schmick for Washington’s 9th Legislative District seat, but at times he seems to be running against the state’s entire political heirarchy.
In recent months Stockwell has offered to debate Gov. Chris Gregoire and Sen. Majority Leader Lisa Brown, as well as Schmick and 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler. He’s sent letters to the state’s congressional delegation. He wants everyone he knows to support completion of the Columbia River Basin irrigation project.
“I honestly feel this is the correct project for Washington,” Stockwell said. “It’s worked for 60 years, and if it’s finished we’ll have another 60 years of success. It’s the only answer that will cure the problem we have with the state deficit.”
The latest revenue projections indicate Washington is now facing a $520 million revenue shortfall in the current biennium, which ends June 30, plus a $4.5 billion shortfall in the 2011-’13 biennium. In response to the projections, Gregoire recently ordered state agencies to cut their budgest 6.3 percent across the board.
Building a couple of dams and finishing the Columbia Basin project will allow agricultural production on another 100,000 acres and create thousands of jobs, Stockwell said. “Washington needs to invest in a project that will return a positive cash flow for decades to come. The problem with Olympia is they don’t understand you have to use money as a tool to earn more.”
Stockwell said he can show how to complete the project and how to store water “more cost-effectively than anyone else. I know how to fund it with three different methods — without new taxes or using stimulus dollars. I know where the money’s at!
When asked where, however, he said he’s “not prepared to say yet", until a "Non-Revocable Project Trust Account" is put in place.