Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dam Battle - November 1966 Press

2 Nov, Sentinel, editorial: Currently Colorado River Basin (CRB) bill is in stalemate, with much finger pointing now. Backers should have listened to Chm. Aspinall. Upcoming meetings will provide chance to explore solutions.

4 Nov, Salt Lake Tribune, editorial: Nat. Reclamation Assoc.(NRA) should be complimented for inviting Brower to speak at its convention Nov 19. His arguments should be heard in an open meeting, where they can be answered, as they will be by Cong. Udall. CRB proponents will have to do more than call him uncomplimentary names to get their program passed. We hope that the Sierra Club will do likewise at one of their public meetings. [We already had, inviting Udall to speak at the Santa Fe Conference on a topic of his choice, which turned out to be the proposed Sonoran Desert National Park.]

8 Nov, Albuquerque Tribune previews Reclamation meeting, saying Aspinall likely to use 1966 bill as basis for a stronger one. He doesnt want administration to foist off things no one wants, or a national commission of outsiders. Thinks a compromise can be worked out.

[Aspinall remained chairman until his defeat in 1972 — a fortunate moment, since otherwise he would have presided over the legislation to expand Grand Canyon National Park in 1973-4.]

9 Nov, Albuquerque Tribune, analysis: Congress may decide between preservation of rivers or building dams near national parks. Water shortages are spreading “across the nation”. Glacier View Dam would impact a remote part of Glacier National Park. The effort to protect Rainbow National Monument failed. Lots of letters for the Grand Canyon killed the CRB bill this year. T.Roosevelt quoted by both sides. “Hard-nosed” Dominy said, “Reclamation is conservation.” Cong. Udall said dam would enhance Grand Canyon.

10 Nov, local southern California paper commentary on need to work on bringing in more water.

11 Nov, Sentinel, commentary by W Nelson: When those against the dam “glibly” propose buying power from private utilities, they never deal with the details, just generalities. Their idea of using revenues from existing dams will certainly not help pay for additional water. “A cash register” must be found to pay for augmenting the river. Preservationists should stop talking and start working on an alternative. They may wake up and find a state dam being built in Marble Canyon. They have wasted many months repeating anti-dam arguments. [Oh yes, Aspinall’s committee would have welcomed any ideas of ours, which in any case were, even as Nelson wrote, being pre-empted by the study Sec. Udall had ordered and Reclamation was working on.]

13 Nov, Post, B. Hanna on questions to be raised at Reclamation convention, as the basin states seek to end the split revealed last summer. Arizona may still build its own project. But Colorado wants its projects, and everybody wants more water. Aspinall, Rep. Udall, Sparks, & Ely are trying to find a palatable new approach, avoiding opposition by conservationists and the Northwest. Aspinall will head a congressional panel, “Together today for Needs of Tomorrow”. And the head of the Wildlife Federation will lead a panel of Brower vs. Rep. Udall.

14 Nov, Sentinel & Post (and two other papers) carry AP article on Sierra Club official Ingram saying support is growing for expanding the park, and alternatives may come out of the Interior study.

15 Nov, another local paper noted Club call for a larger park and alternatives to the dams.

15 Nov, Sentinel writes, Aspinall faces a changed committee in the new Congress, with a quarter of the members gone, and the party balance shifted some toward the Republicans.

16 Nov, Albuquerque Tribune, reports Sen. Anderson of New Mexico tells delegates to stop “squabbling over emotionally charged issues”. Dominy followed this by saying the idea of thermal plants causes him to grit his teeth; multi-purpose dams are better. The Assoc. president called dam opponents names and touted big reservoirs.

16 Nov, Albuquerque Tribune, reports Dominy talk: there will be a bill. I dont know if it will have the dams, but we need a big development fund to augment the river’s suppply.

16 Nov, Nogales Herald reports Cong. Udall speech urges impartial study of importing water.

16 Nov, AP reports on NRA speakers calling for fresh approaches, but also lambasting “a fanatical zealot element”. Anderson and Dominy both suggested a national water commission might help.

17 Nov, Alb. Journal, notes Anderson says it is appropriate for Reclamation to look at power reactors. Moving water over vast distances is “visionary”. Dominy had asked if we should stick with the traditional methods of payback.
[It is almost too easy to see the Senator and the Reclamation Commissioner showing their political sensitivities, and getting ready to push, or bend, in an altered direction. Dominy in particular, with his engineers working away at costing out a long list of alternatives, might well have known that cheer-leading for the dams (although that damned model was at the meeting, of course) would not be appropriate.]

17 Nov, Alb. Tribune, interview with Brower, “silver-haired and golden-tongued”, day before he speaks to NRA. We arent against Arizona’s water; we are against paying for the CAP by building the dams. First day’s speeches did not make him feel welcome. He criticized the model, wishing Reclamation would take the outdated reservoirs out and let people see the Canyon. Conservation involves intelligent management of renewable, and intelligent preservation of irreplaceable, resources. Remarks on his recent Grand Canyon river trip, renewing his faith that we had to save it.

17 Nov, Sentinel (and Albuquerque paper) reports on statement by Arizonan water official that all agreements were now repudiated, as state agencies prepare reports for January on building project and dam. Udall still prefers federal project. A state project would raise legal problems with other basin states. At an earlier meeting, basin representatives had recommended only a reconnaissance study, and to go just for one dam, the low Hualapai. When asked about a state Marble Canyon dam, Sierra Club’s Ingram stated their opposition to any dam, public, private, federal, or state. We will intervene before the FPC if necessary. He also stated Club opposition to Hooker dam backing water into the Gila Wilderness.

Now we get to that last, most newsworthy, day. Brower & I went to the convention, I remember walking with him down a long, long hallway. First encounter was with Steve Reynolds, New Mexico State Engineer, who wanted to chat, asking Dave which dam, if there had to be one. Brower, of course, replied that his task was to defend the Canyon not compromise it away with this dam or that. Next along the corridor was a confrontation with Wayne Aspinall, well illustrated in this ghastly view (Albuquerque Tribune, Friday 18 Nov 1966, front page)

Heres a complementary memory: Back in January, Brower & I met Aspinall going into some Washington DC dinner or other. They said hello, and Dave introduced me as the new Southwest Representative. Aspinall looked at my beard, and remarked that I had more hair on my face than he did on his head. All very friendly. What a difference 10 months, and a lot of turbulent water down the river (washing away those dams!), make.
  We continued on into the ballroom where Brower was to debate Representative Morris Udall (who had a week before spoken to the Sierra Club Santa Fe Conference). I remember nothing of the remarks, only this: After Brower spoke, Udall got up, and referring to Dave’s remarks, made his “goomwah” joke. (Dont ask, just dont step in it.)
All in all I thought, a fair amount of tasteless grandstanding by politicians to an invited guest.
But what the hell — who had, in the end, to eat their own goomwah?

18-19 Nov, both Albuquerque papers reported the debate.
Journal: “Aspinall Raps Opposition”. He “blasted” the Club, and before the meeting had clashed with Brower, shaking his finger at him and calling him an “utterly unreasonable man who would never compromise on anything”. The Club “maintained an extreme and inflexible position.” Because there was no compromise on the dams, the bill had failed, claimed Aspinall. Most conservation organizations, he went on, believe the massive and misleading Club campaign was not in the best interest of their cause. Unthinkable, he averred, that his Committee that had done so much for conservation would do anything to harm the grandeur and beauty of the Grand Canyon. [Strange, he never mentioned not doing anything to harm the “grandeur and beauty” of Glen Canyon.]  However, he believed an agreement could be reached that will serve both water development and park preservation.  He also called the 11 western states to get together to do their own planning so the federal government wouldnt dominate them. He would, reluctantly, go along with a national water commission, but not with its making decisions for the West.

Tribune: “Canyon Dams Foes Clash”, as two long-time foes locked horns. Udall said dams were not outdated. Nuclear wont do the job. Brower said it could; we presented alternatives in our testimony. He outlined the Club’s position: CAP without dams, use revenues from existing dams, let the national commission study water needs, protect the entire Canyon within a park.
Udall stressed the need for compromise, but the Club had said no when CAP backers offered to drop one dam. 

18 Nov, Post, AP report that an Oregon water official, noting the “very serious political impasse” over the idea of exporting Columbia River water, supported a national water commission, as had several other speakers at the Reclamation Assoc meeeting.

18 Nov, Drew Pearson syndicated column: Celebrating California governor Pat Brown as power contracts are signed for the California project to bring water from its north to Los Angeles. The project was voted for by the state in 1960, will reach L.A. by 1971. The water will be pumped using power that will cost three mills/kwh. [Reclamation had estimated substantially higher rates for CAP pumping.]

19 Nov, San Francisco Chronicle also reports on the pumping contract to supply off-peak power from private utility thermal plants at 3 mills/kwh. The state-private contracts took two years to negotiate. There are 42 pumping units along the 444-mile water line, the biggest lift about 3000’ over the Tehachapi Mtns.

20 Nov, (no paper name; Colorado?), editorial setting forth three problems and three compromises “taking shape”: 1. only authorize a lower Hualapai dam, and add Marble Canyon to the Park; 2. Northwest “very touchy” about water import study, so do just a reconnaissance in order not to “frighten” them; 3. keep Arizona away from state project and authorize the Colorado 5, so Colorado’s can protect its water against a grab by Arizona. Also, conservationists have raised a “valid” question about water project financing. So study alternatives to take care of CAP —coal, nuclear, existing dams.

20 Nov, Post, B Hanna, summary report on meeting: Colorado will again lead in trying for a “reasonable compromise”, with a three-point change to the existing bill. Aspinall agrees and will work for speedy consideration. The three points are as listed in the editorial above: Marble Canyon into the Park, Hualapai dam lowered so as not to enter the Park, a reconnaissance-only Interior Department study, due in 1970, of water import, and protect Colorado water rights. There are formidable obstacles: Arizona has repudiated previous agreements, declaring “war” on California. The Sierra Club would reject the dam “compromise”, citing Interior studies for an alternative. Northwestern opposition may be the most serious problem, according to Sparks, and the study may have to be done by a national commission. There is a study under way now of Columbia basin needs through 2020. Aspinall stressed regional cooperation.

20 Nov, Sentinel, reports on a study, done for Arizona, by Parsons Engineering that showed the dams will produce more funds than thermal plants. Other conclusions were equally slanted and irrelevant, like its conclusion that it was unlikely Congress would authorize a nuclear plant. [
Private utilities did eventually build a nuclear plant west of Phoenix.]

21 Nov, Alb. paper, letter from dam opponent, praising Brower for working to save Grand Canyon — the area for compromise is how to solve Arizona’s problems, not the height of dams.

22 Nov, Star, reports that Udall sees Republicans have increased strength after elections and thus have more responsibility for CAP. Also, the majority that Arizona had in the House for the CAP is now reduced by the election changes nationwide.

22 Nov, Sentinel, editorializes against Arizona trying to build the CAP by itself.

26 Nov, Sentinel, reports Aspinall saying the Colorado 5 projects will be in new legislation.
   Also, a report that the upcoming Colorado River Water Users Assn meeting will cover aspects of the on-going consideration of legislation.

27 Nov, Santa Fe New Mexican, with AP article on new approaches to water projects in new Congress. Sierra Club will push for enlarged Park, Ingram says.

27 Nov, Post, B Hanna reports Sparks of Colorado will present compromise bill to water board on 14 Dec. Basin representatives will meet 12 Dec in L.A.

28 Nov, Salt Lake Tribune runs Denver Post editorial on compromise and looking at alternatives.

28 Nov, Sentinel, reports that a limited amount of thermal power to pump CAP water may be provided in the new Basin proposal to be offered in January. [The break-through?] Not so drastic a change, since the power will come in a block of 400-450 megawatts from one of the private utility plants. Reclamation would thus “buy into” a thermal plant for the pumping power, since the dams are not acceptable. Interior should have all the figures in a couple of weeks. Then Interior and the Budget Bureau will present alternative plans to the President. Other possibilities studied were: a pumped-back storage plant, a low Hualapai dam, using existing dam’s revenues after 1987, raising water prices. 
Hooker dam and the Colorado 5 will be kept in the legislation.
A conclusion is that the bill will look like last year’s except for Marble being dropped.

30 Nov, RMN, CAP backers will introduce a somewhat changed bill, trying to avoid basin negotiations, Interior study plan initiative, or Arizona going-it-alone. Marble dam will be dropped; the import study will be reconnaissance only. Aspinall is being urged to sponsor the bill. He may have more hearings, and bypass the water subcommittee. He labelled the Interior study for thermal plants, “utter nonsense”. The Arizona strategy would be to get this bill, with its sop to the conservationists, passed early in the House.

The stage was now almost re-set for the next act, with what would be the two contenders lining up, one behind a somewhat modified House bill with its same backers, the other readying for the Senate a bill that would be acceptable to important Senators (Hayden, Jackson & Anderson), the Johnson administration (Interior under Sec. Udall), and conservationists. The first side thought that by moving strong and fast, they could get a House bill satisfactory to all Basin states. The second, with a stripped-down bill, somewhat more daring, would move, also strongly, to obtain a Senate CAP-centered bill that enlisted the at-least-tacit backing of the major opponents.

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