Rick Perry, the former Texas governor with aspirations for the presidency and now head of the Department of Energy, visited Eastern Oregon recently. He stopped at McNary Dam and toured the Bonneville Power Administration transmission facility operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

That tour was off limits to reporters, but Perry was joined by congressmen Greg Walden (R-Oregon) and Dan Newhouse (R-Washington), when they briefly addressed the press outside the dam. Perry said hydroelectricity will continue to play an important role in America’s energy strategy, even though the Trump administration has proposed selling off the BPA to private energy companies.

Northwest lawmakers — including Walden and Newhouse — have roundly criticized that plan, saying it will raise rates for consumers and affect reliability in rural areas.

Yet Perry was mum when asked where he stood on the issue, saying only that they should not be afraid to have that conversation.

There’s no need to be afraid, and in fact the Northwest has been having that discussion for decades.

We’ve thought about it and argued about it, and lawmakers of both political parties now agree that privatizing the BPA is a bad idea.

To new minds in Washington, D.C., the short-term windfall of a selloff has them salivating. But those of us who have to live with the result — not just for a political term — know that in the long run, the BPA must remain as is.

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