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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lies Float; The Truth, Too Heavy To Bear, Drowns; November 2016 A Part One

(Warning, this essay is a long, detailed, and cantankerous effort to “correct” several mis-recordings that have arisen in various tellings of the glorious fight to save the Grand Canyon from damming. No apologies, just a warning.)

An oft-repeated smear and lie is that advocates protecting the Grand Canyon in the 1960’s gave up the Southwest’s clean, blue skies in order to keep dams out of the Canyon’s deep, dark gorges. I propose here to present some of these smears (in black or a red-brown) and then offer correction and critique (in blue). The main line of the fantasied tale goes like this: 

The dams were planned to generate electric power to pump water for the Central Arizona Project, and to sell excess power to help pay for that CAP. But the people and government of the United States decided not to build the dams, so instead coal-fired electric stations — in particular one to be put up near Page and using coal from Black Mesa — had to be built to pump the CAP’s water and which would also pump clouds of smoke and gas and ash, rendering the skies over the Southwest, and especially the Grand Canyon, thick and brown with the burning coal’s residue, causing would-be viewers to turn away, gasping and choking for breath in the poison miasma.