Monday, April 24, 2017

Dam Battle - October 1966 Press

Interior Secretary Udall, as reported on 18 Sep, offered the idea of replacing the dams in the CAP legislation with nuclear power plants. About a week later (I have no media reports on this), Udall ordered a study of alternate power production as part of a sweeping review of the entire legislation. This set the stage for a CAP/Colorado River basin bill that would be free of dams and an import study. Just three years before, 3 Nov 1963, Udall had ordered that “a plan of action designed to deal constructively with the acute water problems of the Pacific Southwest”, which became the Pacific Southwest Water Plan (PSWWP) and the basis for H.R. 4671 the 1965-6 effort to reach basin-wide agreement on water issues. That effort came to a halt in August 1966. This new plan, a retrenchment from the grandiose 4671, would be used to launch more modest Basin water legislation in the Senate in 1967.
  At the same time, those who wanted to retain the larger-scale provisions and those —Arizonans— who wanted to shrink back to just a state-built dam and waterworks, were arguing for their approaches.


1 Oct, Post, editorial commended Udall for his announcement of a study of dam alternatives. The 1966 bill was dead, due to fears in both the Upper Basin and the Northwest for water supplies and to “the Grand Canyon controversy”. The latter cast doubt on the dams’ validity. The editorial says both nuclear and coal plants need to be considered in a “full and impartial study”. New facts are needed. Then the arguments will start and compromise will be needed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dam Battle - September 1966 Press

1 Sep, Santa Fe New Mexican, editorial: Bill not being passed “is a bitter disappointment to champions of the project”. “Serious setback” given Arizona’s increasingly urgent water needs — and delay for two New Mexican projects. Several weeks ago, we attempted to reveal distortion and half-truths hurled by Sierra Club and Readers Digest. Many countering letters since from citizens. We published pro-dam statements by Cong. Udall and State Engineer Reynolds. “Main point” is whether dams are necessary or would harm canyon’s beauty. They “are sought only as a means to transport and better utilize the precious mineral.” Backers are already planning for next session, so public can be better informed and “realize that the contention of ruining Grand Canyon is comparable with dumping a bucket of water into Yankee Stadium.”

1 Sep, RMN: another report: most of bill’s supporters are “in a state of mourning” though a few are still hopeful. Rules Committee holds the bill, and there seems too few votes for House passage as is, and nobody wants the bare-bones substitute. Aspinall is heading for Colorado; his guidance would be crucial.

1 Sep, Sentinel reports on an emergency “loan” of water to Mexico. Any power loss at dams would be repaid in dollars.

1 Sep, AP, R.Johnson, one of Arizona’s chief CAP lobbyists (he later wrote a book about the CAP fight) said some “hard-nosed” Californians — “a small group of water leaders” (Johnson was likely thinking of Northcutt Ely) — were “scuttling” the hopes of all the basin states for a cooperative solution by imposing “unreasonable demands”. They were convinced the Saylor substitute would pass the House, so they would not let the bill out of Rules (there were two Californians on the small committee). He concluded, “We must begin a thorough examination of alternatives”.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dam Battle: August 1966 Press

And so it turned out that the decisive act that took the wind out of the CRB bill’s sails grew out of mutiny, instead of the external storm stirred up by dam opponents. Captain Aspinall thought it best to change course a bit, hoping to placate the (unplacatable) elements from the Northwest, but the Californian mutineers were determined to keep on the course right into the heart of the heaviest seas. August brought the result.

1 Aug, Washington Post, reports that a committee of scientists urged more and better study of water projects, including exploring all alternatives.

2 Aug, Houston Chronicle, opinion piece by the Outdoors Editor, wondering if the dams were less about water and more about “an overzealous federal bureau”. America’s Park System “is one of the few intelligent things our forebears did”. Now in the House, the dam question requires a better discussion of alternatives. “There is only one Grand Canyon.” Someone has to ask, “Where does it end?”. The growing power of agencies that can bulldoze through legislation bothers the writer.

4 Aug, Farmington (NM) Times, reported that the Navajo Tribal Council had passed, 29-2, a resolution condemning the two Grand Canyon dams as a “needless waste of public funds”. A 1961 resolution in favor of the Marble dam was rescinded [although that resolution was already a dead letter as the Navajo had gone on to oppose the state dam in front of the Federal Power Commission]. They objected to being ignored even as the Hualapai were receiving millions. Annie Wauneka spoke out strongly listing the ways the Navajo had been ignored.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dam Battle: July 1966 Press

June was the setting for the climax that came in July: The Colorado River Basin reclamationists had approved the final form of their grand compromise, defiantly pushing forth their entire package of projects, dams, and import studies.
 In the “old days”, that would have been enough: By adding on one interest after another (“compromising”), they had secured all the allies they should have needed to get approval of the wider congressional world. And as for the opposition that was left — the Northwest would be conciliated or overrun.
Yet there the Canyon’s defenders stood. We had attracted national attention for the Canyon and for our cause thanks to the big ads and the IRS action. So the question— who cared about what the canyon-lovers said?—that was the reclamation-business-as-usual reaction, was receiving an unsettling answer: America cared.
   Watch now, as that tidy little reclamation world runs into the reality of a different America than the one they had prospered in for so many decades.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dam Battle: June 1966 press

(Unfortunately, some of the clippings in the files from now on were saved without information on the newspaper of origin. I have added an ? to indicate my best guess.)

1 Jun, (AZ paper) editorial: With the House Committee about to act, compliments to those officials and lobbyists who have labored to bring the House bill this far. We should shortly know if this golden opportunity will bear fruit. But Congress is straining for adjournment, and it would be a brand new game next year.

3 Jun, LA Times, editorial cartoon, titled “Psycho”.


Dam Battle: May 1966 press

The New York Times had long been a friendly voice for conservation and its causes. Not a newspaper in the West, however, its coverage did not reach to the day-to-day events of the dam fight. The following long article, bylined “Grand Canyon, Arizona” without apparent justification, took the overall summary approach, an almost historical perspective.

2 May NYT, “Nature Lovers Say Dams Will ‘Disfigure’ Grand Canyon”: Opening with a quote from Thoreau, the reporter celebrated the 250-mile-long (sic) 7- million-year-old “masterpiece”. But now “man … plans to regulate (it) and erase ages of (time’s) handiwork. The House reclamation subcommittee will open hearings 9 May “on a bill to authorize two dams across the canyon”, appendages of  a “huge project to divert” Colorado River water to “dry areas of Arizona and Colorado”, principally the Phoenix and Tucson areas.
  The project is not new; “formulated by the West’s principal dam builder”, Reclamation, it passed the Senate twice, but was delayed for 15 years when the House ordered Arizona to settle its water dispute with California. Now, all the Basin states have reached an agreement, with Colorado no longer an opponent since it will receive five irrigation projects.
  The dam near Bridge Canyon, west of the Grand Canyon National Park, was deferred by the Budget Bureau due to the furor raised by conservationists. However, F. Sparks of Colorado pointed out this dam is in the legislation as part of the Basin-unanimous agreement, and he was quite sure “Congress will enact the legislation by August”.
  That dam would drown out “the entire inner gorge at some points”. The two dams would, according to conservationist leader the Sierra Club, convert a living river into a dead reservoir, a static museum piece. Wildlife habitat, archeological and geological records, campsites, river boat trips, would be adversely affected along with the scene being disfigured by roads and transmission lines. Thirteen miles of the Park and 40 miles of the Monument would disappear under water, as would another 90 miles above and below the two dams. This would leave 98% of the Park “untouched”.
  The Sierra Club’s response was a bill introduced by Rep. J. Saylor to triple the park acreage and include the Canyon’s entire 280 miles of the Colorado. However, first, it would fight to delete the dams’ authorization as extraneous to the water diversion. Hydroelectric dams are a separate Reclamation enterprise to produce power to help “reimburse the Treasury” for the diversion’s cost, as is traditional for Reclamation. The dams — called “cash registers (to) ring up sales of electric power” by Reclamation — are a $710 million project to make the diversion feasible. However, dam opponents set forth arguments to show the dams are too-costly anachronisms distant from power-using areas. Their revenues would not be needed if project water were priced at the going rate. But most of the water is going cheaply to farms growing cotton, long in surplus. And this water will need to be augmented from desalinization or other diversions.
  Reclamation responds the dams will both subsidize more water and put the “inner cavers (sic) of the vast gorge within the reach of millions”. The Club call this a crime against nature; there are already 600 miles for Colorado reservoir boating.  An unpublished Park Service report says silt and debris would eventually clog the reservoirs. That report hasn’t been circulated since Interior Secretary Udall favors the dams. Reclamation head Dominy says nature will be improved upon, contrary to Theodore Roosevelt’s, “The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it”.

A balanced report — if by that is meant neither choice is presented as the correct and obvious course. And the reporter worked to be accurate in what he chose to present.

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.