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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Locke stays focused on long-term goals through drought and energy crisis

PULLMAN - Gov. Gary Locke said he is continuing his focus on transportation and education reform while guiding Washington through the crises that have rocked the state.

Speaking before the Pullman Rotary Club, the governor said the drought, energy crisis and even the earthquake are extraordinary circumstances.

"I want you to know that I am leading a coordinated effort involving every relevant agency of state government to guide us through the energy situation and drought conditions we face this year," Locke said. In fact, he said he has proposed new water laws that address the fact that Washington is a very different place than it was 100 years ago when current laws were written. "It will help us move water where it's needed now, and build a more efficient water management system for the future," the governor said.

At the same time he said he is pursuing his goals of providing the state a world class education system as well as efficient transportation methods that move people and freight.

Locke praised the City of Pullman and Washington State University for their work over the last 15 to 20 years to preserve the aquifer on which they depend for water.

He said the city and university were examples of communities that have prepared for the kind of drought the state is experiencing.

But the governor predicted the wheat farms of the Palouse may feel the drought this summer when moisture levels in the soil may be unusually low.

"For now, the biggest impact of the drought is on farmers who irrigate. They rely on 75 percent of the state's water. The agriculture industry feeds us all and provides thousands of jobs. It's a major player in our state's economy, so when it hurts, we all suffer," Locke said.

The governor cited the region's two utilities, Avista and Inland Power and Light, for the groundwork they laid to provide reasonably stable electricity supplies and prices before the current energy crisis began.

He also urged the people in Pullman and across the rest of the state to conserve water and electricity.

"We are all in this together. And working together we can keep our farmers and industry in business, keep our salmon alive and keep a pure water supply for our people," Locke said.
Related Links:
- Energy is Money. Think Before You Spend it.

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