Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dam Battle: April 1966 press

Coverage of the Reader’s Digest convocation continues with reports from three big papers, Denver & Phoenix

1 Apr RMN, Wm. Logan: Headlined “Hearing on Dam Flooded With Bitter Debate”.
“Bitter battle erupted” over dam that “would back water into the lower 27 miles of the 121-mile-long Grand Canon”(sic). For the first time, the seven Basin states had come to a united position. However, the “well-known” Sierra Club is leading a “last minute movement” to block dam. In a “most unusual attempt … to mold public opinion”:  more than 50 “Eastern” reporters, radio and television men flown in by Digest. (RMN was paying for its reporters’ expenses.) Organized by “nation’s largest advertising agency, J Walter Thompson Co.
 Reporters will fly over canyon, and hear debate over dam. 200 assembled in El Tovar heard that the dam was among the “best-kept secrets”. Gov. Godard statement called anti-dam campaign a graphic illustration of misinformation; “unfounded, inaccurate and irresponsible propaganda”. Rep. Udall spoke: Dams will be built regardless of whether public opinion influences Congress, since FPC could license state dam. He was the only congressman; others turned down invitations. Conservationists pointed out Reclamation had taken many into Canyon. Northcutt Ely, chief California water lawyer, said 1919 Park Act allowed reclamation project, and conservationists replied, “Times have changed.”

1 Apr DPost, B Hanna: “Bitter Debate; Barry Urges Grand Canyon Dams”. At Thursday breakfast, Sen. Goldwater argued for expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars for “public power dams”. Debate part of “backgrounder” for newsmen. Not true, said Goldwater, that dams will violate Canyon’s grandeur and beauty. General public would be able to see unmatched scenic values, not just a “wealthy few that can afford the trip”. Dam would also help Hualapai tribal economy.
  Bradley article in RD led to event. Fisticuffs were approached when BuRec’s “elaborate model” appeared, showing that dam & reservoir locations would not affect Park overlook views. Brower and followers tried to remove exhibit, but BuRec refused and call to IntSec Udall oked leaving model in place. Rep. Udall had charged RD wanted pro-dam speakers barred, but panel chair S. Spurr gave them time. Speakers against the dam, besides Brower, were Bradleys (brothers & professors), I. Gabrielson of Wildlife Mgt. Institute, and C. Callison of Audubon. Besides Udall, Ely and governor’s representative spoke for dams. Arguments followed the familiar pattern.

1 Apr Rep, W. Meek: “Barry, Swinging Late, Hits Hardest at Canyon Forum”; “Failure Admitted By Foes”. Sincere defense stole the show. Articulate on state water needs and compassion for dam opponents. Neither dam would ruin or desecrate to Canyon. “I know river better than most here and love it as much as anyone.” Bridge Canyon dam “would enhance the canyon”. Opposed by Sierra Club members who want to preserve geology and wildlife habitat.
   Goldwater expressed reservations about dam in Marble Canyon, and pro-Canyon viewpoint should have been aired in Congress years ago, but now Arizona cannot wait for water. “I have to weigh millions of lives against remote part of canyon,” so please weigh carefully the value of the river you fly over for human needs.
   Few conservationists were convinced, but one admitted it was tough to beat Goldwater on his own ground. Rest of day was anti-climactic, and Club members thought meeting failed to present their views forcefully. No report of bitter argument on Wednesday when Udall pressed for the chance to speak.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dam Battle: February 1966 press

5 Feb, Scottsdale Progress: James Kowalsky guest editorial on GCdams: Sierra Club mbr. Costs of a NJ nuclear plant less than hydro estimates. So cheap coal or nuclear or outrageously expensive hydro. Wrong choice in legislation means water project stalled since DC deluged by letters deploring dams.
(mentions a 12 Dec 65 NYTimesMag article)

11 Feb, DPost: CAP Assoc chair Mehrens in Denver speech says water import into CRBasin essential; job of convincing NW people of study of their “surplus water” is of “great magnitude”. Need 22 maf; Colorado has 15 average. Echoed by Colo gov. Love; 140 maf of Columbia wastes to sea; proud of Colorado water users unity. Colorado needs to use its allocation; 5 projects dont use all of it.
FSparks, Col water dir., import study by 1970. Mead not to be lowered just to help power generation at Glen.
  Editorial says:  Jackson in early Feb said he favors study of all Western water needs asap. So maybe he is open to diversion, but he also stated fear of Calif political power not yielding water once taken. This is same fear of upper basin about CAP using UB “surplus”. So import essential.
Colo unified position: import planning, more Upper Basin development projects, guarantee water level at Glen to meet Lower Basin commitment, put revenues at Glen on parity with Hoover to pay for more projects.

The CRB water leaders just could not stop talking about importing water. There was never any thought that they would be denied.
The Colorado unified position listed the items that the state was insisting on if there was to be a CAP at all.

Dam Battle: March 1966 press

Mar WWN: after several meetings, hearings to be resumed on CRBP bill

Since Interior Comm. chair Aspinall controlled hearings schedule, this was a signal he was being placated.

Mar NYT (no day): At Senate hearing on national water commission bill authored by Sen Jackson, Sec Udall says it should do import studies, and provision should be dropped from CRBP bill. CA Sen Kuchel disagrees. Jackson said NWC study would look at broad national interest; would be “ludicrous” to assign priorities; water a national problem. Udall tells Kuchel “you cannot pick fight with people in Northwest and chairman of this committee and get legislation”.

So here was a hearing in the Senate, at which Sec. Udall and Sen. Jackson were in agreement to take the import question out of local & regional hands and make it a national question. The Water Commission was in part an anti-import move, but made sense in the 1960’s, since there were a number of water questions being brought up due to the growth in the US since World War II. California’s Kuchel would disagree because the CRB leaders wanted the import study to be in the CAP bill.
Udall was telling them to wise up.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dam Battle: January 1966 press

The officials and legislators concerned with water issues in the seven states of the Colorado River Basin had been struggling throughout 1965 (and earlier) to put together legislation that would authorize the Central Arizona Project (CAP would bring Colorado River water over to Phoenix and Tucson) while protecting the myriad water interests of the other states.

The guiding force for relevant policy and construction was the federal Bureau of Reclamation, headed & cheer-led by Commissioner Floyd Dominy, himself a force, although he was nominally under the guidance of the Secretary of the Interior, Arizonan Stewart Udall — brother to Arizona Representative Morris Udall, leader of the Arizona lobbying effort in the house.

Jan, WWN: Dominy speech before Irrigators convention, Dec 1965, asserts needs for AZ & southern Cal cannot be met by Colo R. in long run but also will require desalination, sewage reclamation, and import “from areas of surplus”. He agreed with Sen. Jackson of Washington that import must be actually needed and needs of proposed diversion must be determined. Northern Cal is one such area.
Convention opposed efforts of preservationists to stop multipurpose projects.
Northcutt Ely, (California water attorney and guru), attacked provision in recent water planning act added by Jackson to prohibit some studies of interbasin transfer (p.l. 89-80).[WWN Jan 66]

Perhaps the biggest problem of this knottiest of western water matters is brought right out: The Colorado did not carry enough water to meet the greed & need of the Pacific Southwest states. In the climate of the time, a further huge water project bringing Columbia River water from the Northwest, seemed the obvious solution. But not to the Northwesterners, headed by Senator Henry Jackson, who was in an absolutely key position as chairman of the Senator Interior Committee. He repeatedly made clear his opposition to anything that might hint at a commitment to such an “importation” or “water diversion”. However, CRB spokespersons could not shut up about it.

Introduction To A Crossroads In American History

How In The 1960’s We Chose The Course That Would Better Protect The Environment Supporting Us, On Which We Would Depend For Our Future Well-being and Prosperity
I have wrestled over the years with the Jabberwock of narrating how the United States in 1966-8 turned away from a future of megalomaniac exploitation of the earth and its resources, to build a future richer in its dimensions and more mutually supportive of that earth and the prosperity that depends on it.

That story has many themes and strands; I think it meaningful to emphasize the effort to protect the Grand Canyon from becoming the site of a titanic industrialization, beginning with the construction of two electricity-generating dams along with all the necessary appurtenant claptrap development, by-blow facilities, and destruction such gargantuan despoilers require and inspire.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Save The Grand Canyon Prelude: What Did the Defeat of the Grand Canyon Dams Mean?

Writing about the 1960’s battle to keep the Grand Canyon free of two monster dams has been daunting to think about. First, the story has been written about from various points-of-view. Second, I have two files drawers full of material. But, third, I have no journal or other chronological record of my own to guide a history, as I had for the 1972-5 effort to enlarge Grand Canyon National Park.

One asset I do have is a collection of newspaper clippings from regional newspapers collected during the fight when I was Sierra Club Southwest Representative. I plan to go through these, summarizing them, and hoping that from these pieces I can construct an armature from which to hang the other material I have kept, and eventually a coherent narrative of that 50-years-past adventure.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Wielding the 2x4: The Role Alternatives Play in Policy Conflict November 2016 A Part Two


This is a Part Two in the exploration of one aspect of ethical and existential issues that arise when we engage in conflict over public policy, and what consequences we are responsible for when our rhetoric is or seems determinative of ensuing events. In the first part, I offered (this blog 15 Nov 2016) a case study discussing the criticism that advocates of a dam-free Grand Canyon, in particular David Brower as the most public advocate, traded polluting coal-fired electric generating plants for a dam-free Canyon.

Reflecting on that post, I realized that a set of what: — ideas?, assumptions?, pre-conceptions?, biases? — undergirded my puzzlement that this criticism could even be entertained. Part of this, I suppose, is that my personal involvement in the particular conflict was strongly at odds with such a criticism, since advocating for coal-burning plants was not something we did. 

I also see that there is a way of acting in conflict, a way of gathering forces for battles over policy, that, obvious to me, may not be understood by those examining the conflict in later years. Here, I will try to make clear the larger context that makes alien, even irrelevant, the charge of a trade of an undammed Canyon for polluted skies.