I thought for sure Gov. Kate Brown’s staff would cancel our meeting. She is, after all, an exceptionally busy leader dealing with multiple crises: COVID-19, budget shortfalls, and tense confrontations in downtown Portland that captured the attention of the nation.
On this day in late July, she was also in a bitter and very public dispute with President Donald Trump over use of federal police in Oregon’s largest city.
With all that was going on, it seemed realistic she would show up on CNN or some other cable show. Surely our meeting with her and Oregon consumer-owned utility leaders to talk about the importance of the Lower Snake River dams would be postponed for something more pressing.
But the call to postpone never came, and she was there at her desk via Zoom at the appointed hour, ready to listen to eight articulate Oregon consumer-owned utility leaders discuss why keeping the four Snake River dams aligns with her priorities for our state: a low-carbon future, a thriving economy, and protection for vulnerable populations and communities of color.
Gov. Brown appeared interested and asked good questions on a day when it was easy to be distracted. I certainly learned a lot participating in the call, and I am certain she did, too.
While a more comprehensive synopsis of this meeting can be found on pages 4-5, I am hopeful this is the beginning of a collaborative relationship with the Brown administration over the future of the Federal Columbia River Power System.
We have not always agreed with the state’s position on our incredible hydro system. Breaching the Snake River dams, in our view, is costly and harms the environment. But common ground often can come in small ways we often overlook— such as an important state leader graciously taking a meeting on a hectic day when the easiest thing to do was not have the meeting at all.