Monday, February 13, 2017

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.

1 Mar Gaz: Pessimistic analysis by B Werley: Hearings completed, Upper Basin states ready to go along, Calif compromised. As rptd in Jan Gaz, N Mex refused to go along. Now at mtg of UCRComm, demand for import study. But NW congressmen Foley & White said no way. So no House person ready to say there will be House vote this year. Sen Jackson & Church (of Idahho) also both unalterably opposed to import. Former is crucial as Senate Comm. chm. Aspinall committee has not taken up 3rd powerplant for Grand Coulee. Then there is Arizona Sen. Hayden, chm of Appropriations. Result is no action on CAP.

Another sign that the CRB states were coming together, but not New Mexico just yet, which wanted more water from Arizona’s share. 
Northwest remains the big obstacle. Was the 3rd power plant to be a bargaining chip? Hayden was the Arizona elder statesman in the Senate who had been working for the CAP since the late 1940’s. Obviously relations between Hayden and Jackson were crucial. And as events showed, they worked hand-in-glove, as was the way 50 years ago, when the Senate was still a “collegial” body.

2 Mar RMN: Denver Rep. Rogers wants guarantees for Colo east slope water rights, since bill will authorize more west slope projects, needed since CAP will use so-far uncommitted UB allotted water. Wants state priorities recognized.

Another voice not wanting to be forgotten, but Aspinall and F.Sparks, Colo water director, were key.
2 Mar Star, editorial: attacks 27 Feb Parade article on Niagara Falls for saying Bridge Canyon dam would “flood” GC, but it wont destroy anything. Clear-water lake deep in remote, narrow gorge. People who want to conserve water are conservationists, too, and part of “water involved in this lake” will come to Tucson.

A house can have 8-10’ high walls, and half a foot of water flowing over the floor still “floods” it.

6 Mar DPost: ad in “Empire” mag by chapter of Sierra Club: Leave it as it is, Save Grand Canyon. Choke river, kill canyon forever. Dams, however, are not needed for CAP, will lose water. Only to fund. (but: “small part of power to pump water onto Arizona plateau”??) Cost of “private” power is dropping. To keep Canyon inviolate, other power sources must be used.

Canyon is great; there are alternatives to dams. Repeat after me…
Denver justifiably proud of its activism against dams.

6 Mar Sentinel: Approval of CRB bill is remote: politics—several House seats are marginal. If there might be knock-down fight over dams, congressmen dont want to have to vote on a water issue in election year. Some remember Echo Park.

Aspinall’s home district newspaper. Attention must be paid.

6 Mar Sentinel: AmPubPowerAssoc g.m. ARadin approves of dam.

We didnt care.

6 Mar Trib: Texas Senator wants west Texas included in any import study area.

Another one piling on — how could the Northwest not be on the alert?

9 Mar Sentinel: BuRec presents feasibility on San Miguel (one of the Colo 5) to local water board. First studied in 1930’s; more in 1950’s. Dam, tunnel, canals.

10 Mar Sentinel: WHNelson: action now in DC after many western meetings. Marble moratorium expires 12/31. Many legislators are not informed about decisions made at meetings. Rep Udall in LA emphasized need to authorize CAP this year. Conservationists seem to have overlooked state dam.
UB lobbyists in DC found no urgency,  and will have to explain to those less involved. Aspinall wants BOB clearance of Colo 5, but Calif approval will slow this.

Undoubtedly this was an indication that much negotiation had been going on out of public view.
The Marble dam moratorium was Hayden legislation that had prevented the Federal Power Commission from issuing a license to the Arizona Power Authority (a public power agency run by Arizona right-wingers!) to build that dam, since BuRec wanted it for revenues for CAP and later import.
We knew about it and had sought to object.

11 Mar (Star edit?): bragging about efforts to control water loss and meter use; trying to slow pumping; re-use of mining water.

11 Mar Sentinel: Hayden staff told Colo watermen H is not bound  by current agreement; no Sen hearings until House action. Rep Udall has different position, so no AZ agreement. Aspinall says if no Senate action, why do it in House? N Mex position up in air, since there is still no agreement on Gila water for Hooker, and Sen Anderson has chm of subc. Sec Udall supposedly has told BuRec to hurry up on feasibility of Colo 5. BOB didnt like econ feasibility of A-LP; hasnt cleared Dolores. Colo watermen expected things to happen in DC now that regional agreement reached. But…

Here is the Grand Junction Colo. paper again with warning words: Was there a split, or an indication that Hayden had his own strategy? Pressures on BuRec were intense. A-LP was Animas La Plata, a not very economic project, but Aspinall wanted it in order to  have water claim.

~15 Mar Rep BCole: AZ reps to NatWdlfFed convention (11-3 Mar) headed off NMex resolution to oppose dams. Staff in support of AZ on Marble. Claims anti-dam position stirring up support for both dams(!) Res never reached floor. “Not all gps so practical”.

Cole was an insider Arizona reporter based in DC, and didnt like our opposition. So he is celebrating here because the N.W.F. was set to oppose the dams, but the Arizona hunters objected and quashed action. Again, we didnt much care; my observation of many of the other groups was that, even if they had been in the fight against Echo Park dam in the early 1950’s, they did not have the energy to mount the kind of fight we (Sierra Club) saw as necessary and were willing to wage.

16 Mar AP: 3 of Colo 5 feasibility rpts approved. Dolores project recommended.
16 Mar DPost BHanna: Sparks still uncertain about project approvals
17 Mar Sentinel: Dolores approved by BOB
17 Mar Post reports as if all 4 approved.

This was a recurring story, and got a little boring. The point was, if BuRec wanted the CAP and the dams, it would make the Colorado 5 feasible no matter what.

19 Mar RMN: another story on CAP dead for 1966. To be no Senate consideration at all. House hearings still waiting on Colo 5 w/ trouble on SM & A-LP. Aspinall urging BOB to act, historic agreement. But NMex not in agreement; wants 50 kaf of Gila. Also House comm approved 3rd GCoulee powerplant. Recently, when Hayden asked, Jackson said he was ready to do CAP whenever House approved.
Holdup first was from Upper Basin, but since Colo 5 being agreed to, 2 Coloradans have been running their legs off to get BOB approval. Even if Comm acts, there will be stiff opposition on floor from “potent force” of conservationists.

A prescient story? Certainly things eventually worked out this way, but project-pushers were not ready to give up, and fought hard for the next 5-6 months.

20 Mar DPost: Sparks joins Udall CongRec statement attacking “anti-dam propagandists”. COSCC joined with SClub—drown GC, invade NP. Dams will do no harm, Sparks says; will be beneficial for recreation.
Also, he defends irrigation, says cities need to tighten up; not many projects left.

Although the hostility of the Northwest had been made publicly very clear as far as exporting water from the Columbia River system to the Southwest, figures in Southwestern water politics could not stop talking about it. 

20 Mar Sentinel, An AP article titled “West Thinks Big On Water”, had the following map:

The accompanying text said, in summary:
Billions would be needed for a “man-made river up to 1000 miles long”. It may take a decade; it may never be started. Desalination or weather modification may make import unnecessary, but: “Experts say … a Nile-sized aqueduct is the only feasible solution” to the Colorado Basin states squabbling over the Colorado’s water. From the Snake River, the cost would be about $4 billion; from the Columbia, $11 billion.
   The cost is one obstacle; also, Washington, Oregon & Idaho want to preserve their great rivers. The Colorado basin states are about to settle their quarrels over the Colorado’s water through the pending compromise $1.6 billion project to build Marble & Bridge Canyon dams and the CAP.
 The bill includes a massive survey that would point to the Columbia import. Colorado Basin states have pointed out (1)  that much of the Columbia “is wasted into the Pacific”; (2) such a great aqueduct should include irrigation and power projects the Northwest wants; (3) the economic effect, already calculated, from the expenditure of construction funds.
 All this shows the West is thinking in the grand manner. Power and irrigation revenues are expected to pay costs back over 50 years, although the “average taxpayer is likely to feel an extra nibble at his pocketbook” since federal funds will be advanced to build the project. However, this will mean the West can buy products of the rest of the country. (Emphasis mine.)

And now comes a big event in the anti-dam story — not exactly as we planned it, but it made a splash that continued showering news coverage over the more boring stories about feasibility reports, etc.

On 30-1 March (Wed-Thursday), in Grand Canyon Village, on the South Rim, Reader’s Digest (RD) hosted what it called a “backgrounder tour for press and broadcast newsmen of proposed dam sites”, featuring workshops and, later, flyovers. It was a complex, contentious, intense event on which I have a fair amount of material; I will write about it at length later. Here, I will just summarize the clippings we collected. I have no idea what part of the overall coverage it formed.

28 Mar AP in Star: A representative of the RD visited Phoenix “to invite Arizona officials and water specialists to take part “ in an  RD-sponsored workshop featuring conservationists opposed to Bridge and Marble Canyon dams. The event is scheduled for 30-31 Mar in Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park. Its purpose is to “explore possibilities of destruction” of the Canyon by the dams.
David Brower of the Sierra Club, which opposes the dams, will moderate the panel. Anonymously, an Arizona water spokesmen said, “I think were being set up for a low blow.” The RD rep said about 100 had been invited — newsmen, western officials, and several congressmen. Sen. Jackson & Rep. Aspinall were invited, but no one from the Arizona delegation. R Johnson, Az Interstate Stream Commission, will attend: “We’re planning to have people there who are interested in a balanced development of the Colorado”, and will try “to convince the visitors that the two dams will not in any way damage the Park, but will provide new opportunities for visitors”.

How did this event become a matter of contention instead of a showcase for the Canyon’s defense? Brower and I had met in New York with staff of the J. Walter Thompson Agency that was handling the event for the RD. We had worked out the program and who might be invited to speak. Throughout these discussions, it was clear that the event was to be an opportunity for opponents of the dam to make their case independently of any government interference. This would be a counter to the many times that Reclamation and other pro-dam entities had run public relations events to make their case. Turnabout, the RD and we thought, was fair play.
   After our discussions, the Agency sent an advance man to Arizona to fix up arrangements (we did not know about this). Somehow the fellow thought his job was to contact people in Arizona and invite them to speak in what he mistakenly thought was to be a debate, rather than a public relations event featuring the anti-dam, pro-Canyon position. Brower & I did not learn of topsy-turvy transformation of our showcase until on the day of the event, pro-dam forces from Reclamation and Arizona showed up clamoring for equal time.

29 Mar DPost (UPI):reported on the RD article by Dr R C Bradley (Colorado College physics professor) that said the Bureau of Reclamation’s “two gigantic dams” would “destroy one of the nation’s most spectacular sanctuaries”. The water rise would destroy the river ecology; the major part of the bighorn habitat would be wiped out. The public is scarcely aware of the threat. The fact the dams are in the Canyon has be “soft-pedaled”.

31 Mar Rep, ltr from Rich Johnson to girl in Conn: “We would go to war to preserve (GC) if that were necessary.” But dam not in park; cant see it; after dam, could boat on it; is that bad? “I think people are more important than anything else in the world. Their needs must come first.”

31 Mar (AP):”Hot Words Open Meet on River”. Although Rep. M. Udall & governor’s aide were invited, they found themselves excluded by “the Sierra Club of Calif”. Controversy began Wednesday when the Club threatened to throw out the BuRec’s model of the Grand Canyon, but BuRec officials refused. Udall got angry when told he could not participate, but only mingle during the reception. He claimed he had been invited. Northcutt Ely, Calif water guru, also invited but excluded from panel. RD agreed to let Udall, Ely, be heard, but not BuRec & AZ water officials. Goldwater will appear Thursday. Two themes emerged at event: Arizona had right to water not at expense of desecrating Canyon. However, CAP backers said no harm would be done to national park.

 So what had been intended as a pro-Canyon love fest was turned into another sort of media event — the kind reporters could really love. We felt betrayed, and our efforts over-shadowed. The result was a tempestuous two days, in part because we had encouraged pro-Canyon citizen activists in the Southwest to come and mingle with the press. They did come, and the major part of the audience when the pro-dammers spoke was therefore hostile.
  The story about the BuRec’s big Grand Canyon model is quite true. The first notion Brower & I had of our “betrayal” was when we saw the model occupying a huge area in the meeting space, presided over by a Reclamation employee. We quite lost our tempers, I am glad to say. We did not prevail in getting rid of this propaganda piece (I wonder where it is now); the Park Service was not going to confront the more powerful Bureau of Reclamation. So we huffed and puffed, and then went on with the program of speakers.

31 Mar DPost, R. Fleming (opinion writer?): Sad to see conservationists hurt their own cause by trying to prevent building of dams. Hydro power one of the most economical and reliable power sources. So crusade against Canyon invasion is really against regional improvement. Why not create two long blue lakes in place of “roily current”, a “muddy thread”? Thousands of Americans could view their property from down below, a very rare privilege now. No real invasion of Park. Opposition based on “snob appeal”, keeping out public, but not themselves.
  Offered what he thought a good story from the 1950’s dam fight: “Lady from Baltimore” rushes up to a congressman and tells him to vote against Echo Park dam. He asks, “Have you seen it?” She replies, “No, and dont you dare touch a thing until I come!”

Of course, that story is one of the great points we make about our wonderful American invention of the National Park System: it conserves and presents great places so that people now and in the future can learn about and enjoy them. (Compare Wallace Stegner’s more eloquent comment).
  Fleming, obviously, was some sort of pro-Reclamation mouthpiece. Bert Hanna of the Post, while long versed in water development issues, proved to have a more open mind.

31 Mar DPost, B. Hanna (resource writer): Will Canyon wonders be destroyed? That was the question before newspapermen, conservationists, and water specialists gathered for “objective appraisal”. RD article says dams would desecrate. They are the major feature of the CAP bill. SC of California charges ruin of Canyon, joined by COSCC & local SC. BuRec says dams are essential, won’t harm & will improve recreation, and provide power to finance — all 7 states support.
   Describes dams fairly. Not diverting water, but generating power to “pay for pumping costs for CAP”, and revenue to import water into “overburdened Colorado”. Bureau of the Budge (BOB) has recommended no Bridge, but regional developers support.
  RD article by Bradley: would destroy river ecology. Power too expensive; obsoleted by coal & nuclear. Dominy calls Bradley’s claims “nonsense”. RD tour was arranged in answer to plea by AZ & Cal leaders to take a look. Over 75 press people brought to Canyon from NYC by American Airlines; also chartered planes from Denver et al.

The first day featured a panel presenting the anti-dam arguments, and responses by such as Udall and Ely. There was a reception and mingling that evening.
  The next day was supposed to be a set of air tours over the Canyon, taking reporters to the Toroweap overlook where Martin Litton was to harangue them standing above the 3000’ drop, with Lava Falls in sight. This got snarled when Barry Goldwater showed up to tout dams — a real media coup. But a mixed messenger.

31 Mar RMN (Wm Logan): “Goldwater Defends Proposal for Damming Grand Canon”.
Former Senator (AZ, Rep) & 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was the big draw on Thursday, speaking before a packed crowd.
“Desperate need for water outweighs” the dam question, he said. He claimed to be a Canyon boating enthusiast. Debated Charley Callison of Audubon, which was the  original publisher of the Bradley article picked up by RD — now RD is trying to win support for its editorial stand. Goldwater asserts impression on Easterner is that Canyon will be one big lake with dams; I know river; been through twice (last July). When I weigh 2-3 million AZ against remote part of Canyon, I take people’s needs into consideration. He opined that the stretch in Monument  is the “least attractive part of the whole canyon”. [oh, that ugly Lava Falls, better drowned]  Says: I had to build home in Cal so my kids could know water. I was 21 before I could put water into bourbon. However, Im not married to Marble dam since “Marble Canyon is the most beautiful part”; “sheer canyon beauty”. [shock on BuRec’s part] Callison ripostes: Goldwater including Marble as part of GC. Callison asserts: single billboard in eastern mountains or a spot on a lung can ruin. With dams, Colorado would cease to be live river.

31 March Sun (E Lundberg): Barry in Surprise Defense of Proposed Canyon Dams:
  Photo caption: Opposing Forces Over Dams. They discuss controversial RD article. On hand for tour & discussions. Goldwater (left) defended water needs primacy; David Brower in opposition.

Goldwater told sometimes hostile audience he favored Bridge, and would rather not see Marble if not necessary. Simply not true that dams will violate beauty & grandeur. Human needs lead him to favor Bridge (at least): “I dont like to see these dams built, but I see no other way to answer crying neeeds of Arizonans.

News reports on this event continue in April.

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