Wednesday, January 8, 2014

PL93-620 V. 1920's-1976: The Dam is Dead. Long Live the Dead

The argument over wording in the Park bill referring to the dam was one, a late, incident in the 60-year history of the dam dream. 

After a decade of intense promotion, in 1968 the Arizona Power Authority, a public power provider in conservative Arizona, lost its ideological struggle to build a state dam (then to be located in Marble Canyon), when Congress enacted the Colorado River Basin Act with a provision forbidding any dam, federal, state, or private, in the Grand Canyon without congressional authorization. It was a bitter, crushing blow to a strange fantasy, which lived on because the Hualapai, their lawyer Royal Marks, and the APA had lost touch with environmentally concerned public policy making, and kept talking up a Grand Canyon dam as a "clean method to meet power shortages". So in 1972-4, when Congress was legislating the expansion of Grand Canyon National Park (and the Havasupai's reservation), the Hualapai and the APA showed up in Washington to lobby Congress to add to the park legislation a provision striking down the 1968 dam ban and allowing the state & Hualapai to build a dam (to be located just upstream of the reservoir behind Hoover Dam).