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).

They found a ready ally in their congressman, Sam Steiger, who offered pro-dam amendments throughout House consideration, only to see all his attempts smacked down.
Here is a map from one of Steiger's press releases:

Frankly, I find it a pathetic story of missed opportunity and inability to look at the political world as it had become in the 1970's. The money spent was a throw-away; the fantasy kept the Hualapai's attention away from what would have been legitimate recreation opportunities, and earned the protagonists a place in Grand Canyon's political history as clueless nuisances.

I do feel an obligation for completion by bringing together the archival information I have to give readers the chance to see just how much history lay behind the effort that went into this benighted dead-end.  Therefore, I will try to lay out a reasonable narrative of the Hualapai involvement with the dam and its various promoters over the years.

We start way back. One of the major, if at times peripheral, constituents of the dam story is that the southern abutment, along with the reservoir, would occupy parts of the left river bank that lie on the Hualapai Reservation, along with the most accessible areas for roads, power lines, townsites, geologic materials, and all the other aspects of a gigantic construction and electricity generating project. Had a dam been built at the Bridge Canyon site, almost the entire Hualapai Reservation would have become work site and dam/reservoir environs.

As far back as the original serious application, from Girand, in 1922-3, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was saying the Hualapai must be compensated with money and electricity, and perhaps jobs. Indeed, when Girand and his crew went down Diamond Creek (fixing up a road for their wagon) to do some drilling, apparently Hualapai were hired. (The Girand story is in my post of 2 May 2010.) [Side notes: The hotel was still standing in Diamond then. Girand blasted a shelf  4' wide x 100' long at the river. A BIA man's impression of Girand's effort was that it was "a very feeble attempt at … so great a project".]

In the late 1930's, the Arizona water agency started an effort to get a Federal Power Commission (FPC) license for a dam (post of 5 Jun 2010). Again the Hualapai were aware and informed; the Council passed a resolution in Jun 1939 asking for irrigation water and power. 1941, a BIA report to the Commissioner evaluated what the Hualapai might get if the dam were built. There would not be much impact on Hualapai improvements, along the river it was mostly wilderness. The Hualapai should get the boating concession. In discussing the riverbed, the BIA officials could not decide, using the 1882 Executive Order, whether the boundary was to the river's middle or its high-water line.

In 1944, BIA Sup't Crow -- better known for his detailed and passionate advocacy of an enlargement of the Havasupai Reservation -- recommended to DC [his memo was addressed to Wm. Zimmerman, Ass't Comm.IA, who in the 1950's-60's was the Sierra Club's DC representative] to consider all dam project phases for land damage & royalties--rights-of-way for roads, railroads, power lines, telephone lines, canals. More lasting would be the livelihood earned from visitor concessions. NPS might administer; we should decide whether to contest this to reserve it for tribal enterprise. There are a few thousand acres to be irrigated. Crow repeated this advice in 1946; Hualapai interests need to be protected. They have expressed considerable dissatisfaction with how they have been treated (by Reclamation?). 1947, Zimmerman wrote to the Secretary asking that a block of power be reserved for the Hualapai; there should be additional compensation. 

In 1947, Royal Marks became the Hualapai attorney, first for the settlement of the suit against the Santa Fe, then all legal matters, including congressional. He did not think the Hualapai knew about dam legislation, but strangely in 1948, he was advising against tribal testimony on the Bridge-CAP bill, saying to wait until there is an authorization. This position was abandoned by 1949, when Marks urged Congress to include protection of Hualapai rights in the legislation, saying, "We have quite a fight ahead of us." 1949-50: The Hualapai, with Marks as attorney, made a major & successful effort to be included in the legislation on the Bridge Canyon-CAP authorization. (Post of 8 Aug 2010.) They continued to push for participation in the 1950's, even after the CAP & dam were put on the congressional shelf for a decade.

However, in 1957 the Arizona Power Authority became the state lead on handling power from the Colorado, and was earnestly pursuing what would be necessary to obtain an FPC license, first at the Bridge Canyon site. The Hualapai, with Marks, quickly went after them, and found the APA amenable, writing that the dam "will benefit the Hualapai greatly; we wish to have their cooperation and participation." (Posts in Nov 2010) Other officials, however, got involved in arguments with Marks about access, showing the prickliness of the Hualapai about trespass. Sep 1958, the council approved the APA application, quite content that economic advantages would outweigh any drawbacks. The prickliness again came into play when Los Angeles (LADWP) entered the fray, trying to thwart the APA effort. Then, when agreement between the APA and LADWP was reached to mutually do nothing about Bridge, the APA turned its attention to a dam in Marble Canyon, way upstream of the Hualapai; in fact on the western edge of the Navajo Reservation, which fact the APA felt it could ignore. 

As the APA went after Marble, the Hualapai in 1963 turned their attention to the federal legislation for the CAP and Bridge dam, now about to be revived as part of a super-grandiose southwestern water plan. At first, Arizona legislators and Interior stiffed the Hualapai, causing Marks to set to work. In 1966 he gained recognition for Hualapai interests (including naming the dam for them), which evaporated after Congress quashed the dam effort in 1968. 

The APA-Hualapai connection was then picked up again. By 1969, Marks was working on keeping a contract with the APA alive, along with the idea of the dam and the need to prepare a climate for clean hydro-power to overcome conservation groups. In 1970 Marks wrote to Hualapai chairman Sterling Mahone that we are all impatient to get a campaign started. In 1971, they stood with the governor telling GCNP Sup't Lovegren that they opposed putting the damsite in the Park. In 1972, APA contracts with consultants dealing with the dam application were cancelled, except for the engineering company. Even though Park expansion legislation was being considered in the years after 1968, Marks continued being upbeat: the dam is needed, and with a contract signed with APA, we should be able to build up p.r. on tribe and dam. "I think it can be sold."


Marks and co-lawyer Lazarus both contacted Goldwater's aide Emerson in February 1973 as Goldwater's bill was drafted, Lazarus reporting that Emerson "was as quick with me as you". He claimed no further language was needed since the existing reclamation authority was preserved. This was an infinitesimal improvement, since Hualapai want FPC license, said Lazarus. 

June, Emerson wrote a memo asserting that moving land from LMNRA into an expanded GCNP  would not impede any possible future construction of a dam. This assurance was based on an updating of the old reclamation provision in the original GCNP Act, so that it read:
"Whenever consistent with the primary purposes of such park, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to permit the utilization of those areas within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area immediately prior to enactment of (this Act) and added to the Park by such Act, which may be necessary for the development and maintenance of a Government reclamation project."
In the same section, the Goldwater bill accepted the 1968 prohibition on Canyon dam-building unless authorized by Congress. All this was, Emerson wrote, "to assure that the legislation would not affect (existing) laws one way or the other". The bill, Goldwater emphasized, "should have nothing to do with any existing right or responsibility" to construct a dam. 

These assurances from Emerson that their position was protected were discussed by the APA board. From June, however, APA staff were arguing that they "did not believe that provisions of the Goldwater bill protect the APA position or the state's interest". Several more discussions with Emerson on the subtleties of the language led to their conclusion that he had "made a good faith effort", but the only way to protect the damsite would be to exclude it from the expanded Park. Nevertheless, the APA chair badgered Emerson for two months to get him to produce a legal memo to protect the APA, which he did, although it only reinforced Goldwater's position that he was not changing the status quo. In August, Emerson wrote that the language "would specifically preserve the authority now in the law which relates to the possible construction" of a dam. Indeed, even without his section 9, the Park enlargement would not affect the dam's status: There was no "mystical reason" why park designation would make dam construction more difficult. Interior agrees that the bill was drafted "to avoid precluding construction". This law "shall not apply" to the dam's situation.

[Personal comment: Of course, McComb & I detested the thought that our Park legislation would contain any reference to the dams, and we urged its deletion, but since we thought of the language as a harmless blotch on the bill, not a malignant tumor, we staged no big effort. In part, of course, because we knew that Emerson was wrong--there would be an additional "mystical" block to the dam if the Park included its site; for the first time, with the Park co-extensive with the Canyon's length, the public could see at a glance, on a map for instance, that the areas potentially affected by the dam are well inside, are part of, the Grand Canyon. Today, a generation or so later, with a different national politics, I am relieved that the Park is a seamless entity along the river from the Paria to the Grand Wash Cliffs.]

In mid-1973, the APA had approached the Los Angeles Dep't of Water & Power about working on Congress, and had received encouragement from Arizona Republic journalist Ben Cole. In September Hualapai chairman Mahone and attorney Marks reassured the APA they were ready to provide whatever help was needed to make the legislation more favorable to their aims. 

At the time of the House hearings in November, APA-Marks correspondence suggested there be quiet contact with Californians to slow matters down in Committee. In testimony, the Hualapai offered their amendment with two parts: First, the Federal Power Commission would be allowed to authorize a state dam. Second, they dropped the 1919 reclamation provision and flat-out made "reclamation and power" the primary use for Lake Mead lands put in the Park. Their effort led to Goldwater saying their testimony opened the door for the Sierra Club to attack his "saving" language. 

In Jan 1974, the talk was of divvying up the Representatives among Hualapai and APA lobbyists, to get backing for the effort by Steiger to amend the bill in subcommittee mark-up. That having failed, in April, they tried again, working on the full Interior Committee, finding Owens, Steelman, Ruppe, Towell, Clausen opposed, with Sebelius, Regula maybe, and Ketchum, Bauman, Symms, Hosmer on board--although perhaps only to keep the site out of the Park. At this time, Senator Fannin said he would push to exclude the damsite from the Park -- a little late since the Senate had already acted. To which Udall responded that the House would not re-fight the dam battle.

The pro-dam lobbyists were optimistic in early March, finding nearly universal support in the Arizona state legislature and from the governor. There were many pro-dam resolutions from tribes and agencies, and though unsuccessful in the subcommittee mark-up, their lobbyists were much encouraged about the full Committee. However, when Marks reported that Udall had asserted that the Interior committee did not want to consider the dam, he said, "This appears very damaging." Still, LADWP wrote the Californians asking them to support a "unique and valuable resource that should be developed", blaming the Sierra Club for an "energy crisis" because of its "successful scuttling of a major power project".

Back in Arizona, in February, the APA tried for a big splash by getting the state legislature to pass a memorial supporting the dam. However, when a public hearing was held in March before the state House committees on Environmental Future and Natural Resources, the anti-dam voices, coming from all over the state, outnumbered those for it in a meeting that went until midnight. Marks thought it was 10 to 1 against. "We have a fight on our hands." Not much of a one, since after consideration, the legislative leadership decided the votes were not there, and never brought the memorial up for a vote. 

Regardless of that setback, much less the more important one of not being heeded by the Parks Subcommittee, LADWP and the APA announced a joint study of Hualapai dam as a pumped storage project. And, after his defeat in the subcommittee, Steiger issued a press release, flailing about at those who lied to and deceived the public about the harm the dam would do. He trotted out "truths" about the great benefit to Arizona and the Hualapai, and even the public that would be able to see "the remote and beautiful parts" of the Canyon on "50 miles of beautiful lake". He lauded Goldwater & Udall's support for the dam--from 1965! 

In March, the APA prepared to oppose Wilderness designation in Lake Mead because it would interfere with water & power needs. At GCNP master plan hearings, they had objected to NPS saying that for an Arizona dam, there had to be congressional approval, then a NEPA study, then federal regulatory approval, so its possibility was remote. 

In this period, Steiger upped the bet, ready to ask the Interior Committee to authorize a dam directly, not just preserve the possibility. He would have Congress "instruct" the Federal Power Commission to give Arizona a permit. According to news stories (Republic, 2 Apr 74), the Hualapai-APA "team" was in Washington in the weeks around April Fools Day visiting committee members. There were "kits" for the "team" telling how the dam would do this great good, but not that awful evil flood, bragging about the amount of power and cash that would flow from this political mirage.

So in April, Phoenix journalist Ben Avery, for his friend Goldwater, wrote Mahone, "Sterling, people are not telling you the truth about this dam because they want to use the political clout of the Hualapai to help them do something they know could not be done any other way." The truth is that LADWP would build and run it, and not for the benefit of Arizona or the Hualapai. In spite of this advice, the four APA and three Hualapai (Mahone & Rocha, w/ Marks) lobbyists visited 30 offices of House Interior Committee members; Mahone himself was involved in visits to 19 offices.  His devotion to the cause was demonstrated further in his reply to Avery: "It is the Hualapai who have been in the front of the fight for the dam." Rhodes and Fannin told me to continue. "As long as we Hualapai are alive, we are going to try and keep Hualapai Dam alive." The APA approved further expenditure for DC work. 

In May, Marks asked the BIA to do what it could. Havasupai certainly do not oppose this dam, and Reclamation heartily endorses building of this dam. BIA replied it has backed Hualapai inside Department, but has not prevailed. 

Their efforts to build support continued even as Udall raised doubts about the dam campaign by saying that Central Arizona Project funding could suffer. The Arizona Republic editorialized for Hualapai free enterprise. When Avery wrote that Los Angeles would be the beneficiary, Steiger replied that four of the six-member Arizona delegation actively supported the dam, and Goldwater would. Avery followed up with more columns against the dam; Arizona agreeing not to pursue a dam was part of the price for the CAP. Fuctuation in water levels and flows would be catastrophic for the western end of the Canyon.

Reporting to the tribal council in June, Marks said the attempt with Mahone & Benson to get Goldwater to preserve damsite had been unsuccessful -- some of our objections were taken care of, but not the main one, since his language refers to a reclamation project; we have a power project. Steiger is our champion, fighting side-by-side with APA and us to amend the bill. We have an active P.R. firm, and in April, we spent a week. 

Steiger tried a cute one, going to the headquarters of the AFL-CIO to urge its chief lobbyist to join in support of the 3000-job project. He was not admitted, but he got a news story and scored off organized labor.

The Executive Director of the Sierra Club said "There is no chance whatsoever that this project will get authorized." California water interests responded that there was a new legislative climate since the energy shortage.

Steiger's "Dear Colleague" letter sent to the Committee just before it considered the bill in late July included this version of the dam amendment:

The clever part of this is that (a) & (d) are not changed from the Goldwater-Udall version. The insertion of (b), therefore, follows the existing law by having Congress authorize a dam, if indirectly.


I will pick up the dam story and include it in my main narrative about the legislation, with Committee consideration the next big action. However, I want to close the long version with a summary of the zombie's dissolution:

Offered to the Committee, the vote against the dam was 22-12. In August, after committee rejection, the APA wanted to talk about the upper dam, but Steiger doubted its chances, and Goldwater reassured the APA that his version would prevail. Marks told Mahone to write the Secretary, chastising him for not supporting "our little tribe".

Steiger did not give up and set up another confrontation on the House floor. After winning that one in October, Udall said during an election debate, " There ain't gonna be no damn dams on the Colorado." (Republic, 31 Oct) 

In Nov, Marks was reduced to "wishing" there was "something a little stronger" in the legislative history. [Indeed, his single-mindedness on the dam also left him wishing in later years, that they had paid attention to the matter of placing the National Park boundary on the south bank.]

At the Arizona Governor's Energy Symposium in December, construction of two Grand Canyon dams was recommended.  Not giving up, ("there is the reclamation provision", said Marks) in 1975, Hualapai lawyer Lazarus drafted a bill for a Hualapai Dam licensed by the FPC, which Steiger introduced. He ran for the Senate in 1976, and lost to Democrat D. DeConcini. 

The Hualapai became reconciled to the loss of the dam dream, pursuing other ways of using the Canyon to build their economy; I do not know if they ever took any more formal action about the dam.

Sources: APA files in Phoenix; several different headings
BIA files on the Hualapai in the Truxton Canyon agency in Valentine, AZ.
My files

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