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Bishop, Bowen keep tone civil, agree on most issues
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Rep. Rob Bishop and his Democratic challenger Morgan Bowen kept their Friday on-air debate more civil than a live one at Utah State University earlier this month.

The two touched on issues ranging from the economic crisis to energy policy on KUED's "Utah Now," which will repeat the program Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Neither let his emotions take control.

Bishop and Bowen agreed on many of the topics brought up by moderator Doug Fabrizio, but the debate took a more pointed turn when the topic of lobbyists arose.

When asked about energy plans, Bowen questioned why Bishop had waited for an energy crisis to take action instead of acting when he took office six years ago. He also questioned how much influence $28,000 from EnergySolutions employees had on Bishop's decision not to support a bill limiting foreign low-level radioactive waste from coming to Utah's west desert.

Bishop acknowledged taking the money, but said his decision wasn't influenced by lobbyist money, but rather his desire to let individual states make decisions about foreign waste.

"Tennessee has been taking foreign waste for years, should Utah tell them not to?" Bishop asked.

As far as other energy sources, both take a comprehensive approach, advocating for oil shale, nuclear power and renewable-energy development. And both say oil prices have a direct impact on voters.

"If you're rich, then energy doesn't matter that much. But if you're on the poverty line, 50 cents of every dollar goes to energy costs, which means you can't spend it on luxuries such as tuna casserole," Bishop said.

He recently voted against a bill that would have ended the moratorium on oil shale leases in Utah, saying the bill was done in secret and had no hearing or debate, saying both were needed to make a palatable bill. But the ban will lift anyway, because Congress did not renew it.

Both disagreed with the $700 billion bailout bill, which Bishop voted against. Bowen wanted to see more oversight and regulation, which he said Bishop had voted against. He also disagreed with the final draft of the bill.

"Treasury Secretary Paulson shows up and asks for a blank check and doesn't say how it will be spent or how it will help the economy," Bowen said. "All that Congress changed was to put in pork barrel spending."

Bishop said a truly free market would solve the problem, and pointed out that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were government-sponsored entities that needed to diversify their portfolios to please Congress. That push for new and different types of loans led to their collapse.

"You cannot put that kind of power into two government-sponsored entities. We should have had 10 so that if one failed, it wouldn't bring everything down around it," Bishop said.

smcfarland@sltrib.com

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