Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dam Battle - August 1967 Press

At the end of July, Cong. Morris Udall organized a river trip for nine of his House colleagues.  The Arizona Republic (1-2 Aug) was represented; here are the intrepid legislators near Phantom Ranch, investigating the Grand Canyon, Udall is the one grinning second from right. More important

to the newspaper was that Rodgers Morton (second from left), Republican of Maryland, “was convinced he was wrong in originally opposing” the CAP. After his six days on the river, Morton, “with a first-hand look at the country (was) convinced that the recreation advantages on the river with the dams are tremendous”. He saw that the damsites would not “interfere with Grand
Canyon National Park”, and would tell this to the “conservation groups and garden clubs in my own district” who had been “pressuring” him. Morton was the most outspoken of the group, though another member appeared shocked that the proposed reservoir would not reach to Phantom Ranch.

[This trip had no impact on the course of the legislation, but sad to say, events just downstream did affect Grand Canyon’s future. Orren Beaty, the man in the background fourth from left, slipped while on one of the pontoon rafts and hit his head on the motor, causing a serious enough injury that he was helicoptered out. Six years later, when Morton was President Nixon’s Secretary of the Interior, he was considering the question of whether motors should continue to be used on Grand Canyon trips. Remembering the Beaty incident, he decided that motors should stay while a study was done on river travel’s safety. This led to a 7-year delay in decision-making, and allowed motorboat operators to gain the upper hand in determining river traffic policy.
From my point of view, he showed remarkable consistency in the conclusions he drew in these two situations from his “first-hand look”. You can lead an ignorant person to the library; you cannot make him read books.]

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dam Battle - July 1967 Press (incl. a Kennedy river trip)

1 Jul articles, Post & AP, highlighted opposition to the Hayden-Jackson-Administration bill by California (Gov. Reagan will “oppose vigorously”) and Colorado & Wyoming (“special purpose legislation which proposes to rob Peter to pay Paul”).

2 Jul, the Sentinel predicted quick Senate passage and a long delay in the House. Aspinall spoke of it as “the death knell”, at least for “this year”. Behind-the-scenes talks remained unsuccessful. (The article remembered that the 1966 effort failed “in the face of strong opposition from conservation groups”.) The Senate will take up its version in July-August.

2 Jul, “disappointment” was voiced by Salt Lake City’s Tribune, although Senator Moss had voted for the measure since Utah’s projects were promised funding. He emphasized that he was disappointed in the final result.

4 Jul, the Star carried an AP story on the trip by Senator Kennedy’s large (over 40) short (the party left at Phantom ranch by foot, mule, or helicopter) river trip on four 28’ pontoons. They rescued a chihuahua, and “shot” some rapids on air mattresses. His only comment was that the river was “a great natural resource that should be enjoyed by as many as possible in years to come”. The Washington Post’s humorist Art Buchwald gave more details:

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dam Battle - June 1967 Press

The newsletter of a Californian “Colorado River Association” reprised the May Senate hearings, featuring their state’s Kuchel (r. fingerpointing) giving Secretary of the Interior Udall (l.) (and by extension, Arizona and Hayden, and Senators Anderson (m.) & Jackson — with eyes closed) a hard time:
The quote is the beginning of Kuchel’s charge that Udall had abandoned his 1966 Basin approach in the Pacific Southwest Water Plan. Kuchel also, of course, supported an import study and Hualapai dam (so much for the much-vaunted power of the Sierra Club of California).
  Also reported was the presidential signing of authorization for a nuclear desalting plant for California. It even printed an alarmist warning from Reclamation’s Dominy that rapids-running of the Colorado “is dangerous enough to require advance issuance of a permit to take the risk”. He notes that there were 362 river-runners in 1962; over 1000 in 1966, but 3.5 million visits to Lake Mead. [A recent report (“USNews” May 2017) called Lake Mead the “deadliest of US Park Service sites”, with an average of 8 drownings a year.]

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dam Battle - May 1967 Press. And River-running report.

The legislative arena, battlefield, in 1967 was ready to be given a radically different appearance from the year before. In 1966, Aspinall and the House protagonists were given the opportunity to craft a Basin-wide accord. They did, but the time it took and the formidable opposition brought out as a result, doomed the effort, dependent as it was on passing the House with every detail in place no matter how far-fetched.
  The lessons from that experience learned, the administration and the Senate reconfigured the landscape with initiatives that broke with Basin accords while satisfying the major opponents the 1966 effort had revealed—the Pacific Northwest and advocates for a damless Grand Canyon. It cannot be stressed enough that the particular players—Sec. Udall, and Senators Hayden, Jackson, Anderson—disposed of the power necessary to make this reconfiguration work. With a different Interior Secretary, without the seniority and position of those three Senators, California and Colorado would have been more formidable proponents of the Aspinall-Basin House approach.
  If my contention is correct that this contest was a hinge moving America between very different futures, then those four individuals were key in directing the forces that prevailed.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dam Battle - April 1967 Press

2 Apr, Republic, ad by Salt River Project: “You can be sure there will always be a plentiful supply of priceless water at the lowest possible cost even though the users of water may double in the next ten years.”

3-5 Apr, Star ran editorials and answering letters about the Young-Martin report that recommended changes in use of Arizona’s water, away from cattle feed, in order to avoid building the CAP. The paper was disturbing enough that the dean of U of Arizona’s agricultural college issued an official rebuttal. (Although a tempest in the Tucson teapot, the items showed the fears CAP backers had that any crack in the state’s pro-CAP front could doom their chances.)

5 Apr, Republic reports that Utah’s Senator Moss had introduced a bill for a CAP with a Grand Canyon dam and a feasibility study for water import. His approach was allied with California’s, reinforcing the line between the Hayden-Jackson-administration approach and the Colorado-California commitment to the 1966 effort.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Dam Battle - March 1967 Press

In February the Interior Department/Johnson administration and the Senate — Hayden, Jackson, & Anderson leading — allied on a Basin proposal stripped of 1966’s most controversial items. The Basin states were no longer in accord, but in scheduling hearings in mid-March, Chairman Aspinall wanted to make clear he aimed to put together a Basin bill based on states’ agreement to confront and correct what he saw as the shortcomings of the Interior-Senate version and the overreach of the 1966 bills.
Surprises were in store.

1 Mar, Post, marked Aspinall’s introduction of his “compromise” in the “tradition of compromise and fair play to try to bring two sharply opposed interests—water development advocates and the conservation groups—together.” The part of the Grand Canyon upstream of the existing National Park to the Glen Canyon N.R.A. would be added to the Park. An added bone would be extending 1) that northern end of the Park to the Vermillion Cliffs, and 2) the west end to take in part of the existing Grand Canyon National Monument. Hualapai Dam would be built. Lake Mead N.R.A. would be extended upstream to include the reservoir behind Hualapai.*
  Beyond his compromise, the bill would authorize the Colorado Five, a national water commission tasked with studying water import into the Colorado, California’s guarantee of its share of the River, and creation of a Basin fund to collect revenues for future development.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Dam Battle - February 1967 Press

1 Feb, Star, carried a report on testimony at an Arizona legislative hearing on the irrelevant scheme to bring water to Phoenix from Lake Powell through a 160-mile tunnel.

Irrelevant, as with so much else, because on this date, the hinge swung smartly and irrevocably toward closed on fate’s door for the dams.

1 Feb, in many papers, from AP, Sentinel, and a Sierra Club press release, the news was broken: A new concept for the lower Basin project was announced by Interior Secretary S. Udall. Two “controversial” dams were dropped, with pumping power for the CAP to be (pre-)purchased. Separate legislation would add Marble Canyon to Grand Canyon National Park. A national water commission would be created and action on Hualapai dam would be “deferred”. Udall said, “We now propose to obtain low-cost pumping power for the project by federal prepayment for 400 megawatts of capacity in a large efficient thermal plant built in the region under the sponsorship of the utilities (of WEST).” Interior, the Budget Bureau, and the White House are solidly behind the plan.
  RMN on 31 Jan had broken the story, saying Udall would announce the plan in a couple of days.
  Sentinel headlined the “mere shell of a plan which Congress unsuccessfully wrestled with last year’, with five upper Basin projects cut, along with the two Grand Canyon dams, a guarantee for California’s water allocation, and a lower Basin fund for future water projects. It is “a signal victory for the Pacific Northwest and the conservation groups”. Added would be the “unique” feature of federal prepayment for pumping power. The CAP would be paid for by the prepayment feature, municipal and industrial water pricing, and a property tax in the water using area. Udall’s announcement followed a four-month review in Interior and the Budget Bureau. [I had been informed that Bureau of Reclamation employees did all the heavy lifting.] Most basin water problems would be left outstanding. Aspinall had set 15 Feb as the date for an Interior report, hearings to follow. Aspinall & Johnson have already introduced a bill slightly scaled down from that of 1966. Arizonans’ bill was like the administration’s but with Hualapai dam included. Udall had talked with Senators Jackson and Anderson — who approved — as well as Aspinall and Hayden.
  The Club release listed: the water commission, adding Marble to the Park, deferring a decision on Hualapai dam, immediate authorization of the CAP including Hooker Dam [important to us because it would invade the nation’s first Wilderness, the Gila in New Mexico]. The prepayment plan will allow rates of $10/acre-foot for agricultural water, $55/af for m&i, with a property tax of .5 mil for the serviced counties. Udall asserted that this success is possible because of a new high level of cooperation between public and private utilities.