Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dam Battle - June 1967 Press

The newsletter of a Californian “Colorado River Association” reprised the May Senate hearings, featuring their state’s Kuchel (r. fingerpointing) giving Secretary of the Interior Udall (l.) (and by extension, Arizona and Hayden, and Senators Anderson (m.) & Jackson — with eyes closed) a hard time:
The quote is the beginning of Kuchel’s charge that Udall had abandoned his 1966 Basin approach in the Pacific Southwest Water Plan. Kuchel also, of course, supported an import study and Hualapai dam (so much for the much-vaunted power of the Sierra Club of California).
  Also reported was the presidential signing of authorization for a nuclear desalting plant for California. It even printed an alarmist warning from Reclamation’s Dominy that rapids-running of the Colorado “is dangerous enough to require advance issuance of a permit to take the risk”. He notes that there were 362 river-runners in 1962; over 1000 in 1966, but 3.5 million visits to Lake Mead. [A recent report (“USNews” May 2017) called Lake Mead the “deadliest of US Park Service sites”, with an average of 8 drownings a year.]

1 Jun Tribune editorial took note of the start of construction for a project in Utah authorized a decade before. Aspinall spoke, and warned that the water would only be there for 2-3 decades.

2 Jun RMN reported the first shot in legislating as Jackson’s Interior Committee passed the National Water Commission bill after defeating the attempt by Colorado’s Allott to amend the bill to make a study of water import into the Colorado Basin the Commission’s priority. Basin states want a regional study and see the Commission as Jackson’s stalling move.

2 Jun Republic then carried Aspinall’s announcement that his irrigation subcommittee  would consider the Commission bill on 8 June “by itself”, since keeping it tied to the CAP legislation would just drag things out more. The Senate Committee intends to work on the CAP bill 9 June.

8 Jun, W.Nelson of the Sentinel, in writing of the 9 June start of committee mark-up, characterized this as Jackson intending to “force through the administration’s version introduced by Hayden”. The Republicans (really Kuchel and Allott) protested not going through the subcommittee [so they could delay the matter and score more points for their lost cause], but Anderson of New Mexico accepted the unusual procedure since “Scoop (Sen. Jackson) wants to handle this himself.” [ Thus showing Aspinall just who is in charge.] Reportedly, two of the Colorado five projects would be included. Allott said, and his waterman Sparks agreed, that Senate passage of this proposal will be the end of CAP for this Congress, since Aspinall will not allow any action in the House.  Aspinall greatly feared that the anti-dam Rep. Saylor could take the initiative and get the Senate bill substituted for anything Aspinall approved of. The latter’s only — very slim — hope is that Allott and Kuchel could prevail.

9 Jun Republic carried the news that Aspinall made good on his promise when the House reclamation subcommittee approved the national commission bill. The Northwest lawmakers were pleased since the bill no longer was linked to a water import study priority. Rep Foley of Washington was “delighted (at this) big step forward … to a needed long-range study of our water situation”. The House bill did drop a requirement that commission members be approved by the Senate.

9 Jun Sentinel’s Nelson quoted Sparks that the Administration had “completely abandoned” all the Basin states except Arizona, along with the Pacific Northwest and the Sierra Club. It regards the 1966 agreement with “fatherly amusement”, and the Pacific Southwest Water Plan, once “fiercely defended” by the Secretary, as now just a “broken promise”. [Though more “dramatic” than usual, this was an accurate analysis.] The article then tries to show that Jackson had switched his position many times, to block any study. And claims that the Senate bill could not be “blasted” out of Aspinall’s committee; he has too many friends in the House.

10 Jun, the Republic reported the start of work in the Senate. First, Kuchel moved to send the bill to subcommittee, and lost 10-7. Then Arizona tried to remove a property tax on Arizonans that was to help pay for the CAP, but Kuchel protested and the issue was put off.

11 Jun Post’s B.Hanna weighed in on Sparks’ comments (entitled “Requiem”), which he wrote following “several days of intensive negotiations” by the Basin states to revive the 1966 agreement. Sparks also criticized Arizona for refusing to take on a larger share of the Mexican Treaty obligation because of the Gila River flow: “the fate of the CAP rests squarely and solely in the hands of the senior senator from Arizona”. Sparks speculated that the Senate bill would be substituted for any measure reported by Aspinall’s committee, and therefore Aspinall will not allow any bill to be reported.

12 Jun Sentinel quoted Allott: “Im fed up to here.” over the Arizona effort to drop the property tax burden. No more action until 16 June.

15 Jun, AP reported approval of the Commission bill by the House Interior Committee. 
And also that Jackson gave the CAP a “better chance than ever before”. He spoke of progress in executive session, and a bill being reported about the end of June.

15 Jun: Im not sure what he is cackling about:


  The Sentinel realized the bill “puts the pressure” on Aspinall. The addition of upper basin projects was of vital importance. The bill is insured of passage next month. And it is difficult to see how Aspinall can hold up a similar bill for the next 18 months of this Congress. Arizonans said they made the decision on the Colorado five the night before the final vote, after seeking the views of knowledgeable Colorado watermen, and getting Jackson’s approval a half hour before the final vote. One Arizonan said the odds against CAP passage have gone from 50-1 to 20-1; Colorado has incentive to join in. Coming so late, though, may have been a “big tactical error”. Talk of compromise “is already in the air.”
19 Jun Republic, Cole described several significant additions to the bill. First, a Basin account would be authorized to receive various funds for the CAP, amounting to $1.5 billion in 80 years. This move might make a property tax unnecessary. More important to Canyon defenders, the Federal Power Commission was forbidden to issue a license for a dam between Lake Mead and the National Park. The vote was 11-5, with Arizona’s Fannin abstaining. A basin account would receive funds from Hoover and Parker-Davis dams after pay-out (1987). Other sources would make up any shortfall in the CAP paying for itself. Kuchel, of course, complained about any increase in Hoover dam power rates, but Fannin said it would remain competitive at 4 mills. Wilderness-invading Hooker dam remained unaffected.

20 Jun, Republic’s Avery wrote an atmospheric piece on Hayden and how the CAP situation may mean he will have to do some “rock-crushing” given the divergent views of the Senate and the House on the CAP. However, that is not Hayden’s way, as chair of the Appropriations Committee. Still, he and Sec. Udall are the confident Arizonans in Washington today. Aspinall, to the contrary, admits he is not able to get a bill out of his committee, since he needs “the Northwest’s agreement for a dam (so) my people will have protection.” He will meet again with the Northwesterner “boys”, but its a “no dam then no bill” proposition. “Im as interested in my own area as Scoop Jackson is in his or as Senator Hayden is in his.” His bitterness was ill-concealed, but he still expressed hope that the Arizonans in the House will prevail. All he needs is for Jackson to approve Hualapai Dam. Would the water commission bill passage help? No, said Aspinall.

21 Jun, AP notes work on CAP “shunted aside” by abnormal Senate business. CAP lobbyists are divided on the chances for success. Hualapai Dam now a key difference between Senate and House approaches. Rhodes is hopeful; Steiger pessimistic.

21 Jun, AP sees Reclamation stirring the pot elsewhere, talking about bringing water from the Mississippi to west Texas. That idea got the expected reaction from Louisiana.

21 Jun, And from Page, came notice that Sec. Udall with family and friends started their 10-day river trip through the Canyon. They first motored up to the base of Glen Canyon dam. The trip was run by J.Curry’s motorized Western Rivers company. [In another article, Udall had expressed disappointment that motors were used.] [Notable among the other passengers was Bates Wilson, sup’t of Canyonlands/Arches, who in a year would be spearheading Udall’s attempt to produce prospective Monuments for out-going President Johnson to proclaim.]

22 Jun, Sentinel ran a threat by Allott to filibuster the Senate CAP legislation, to win some concessions. He and his allies hope to hold up action to allow behind-the-scenes compromising. However, Allott-Kuchel changes appear doomed.

22 Jun Republic reported Kuchel “gutting” amendments were all defeated by lop-sided votes (14-3, e.g.). Accepted was a requirement that the Page coal-fired plant use water from Arizona’s allocation.

23 Jun, Tribune’s Hewlett marked the approval of the Lower Basin Fund to hold surplus revenues from existing dams, primarily the $76 million to assist the CAP. His wording also implied that any decision on Hualapai dam was reserved for Congress.

24 Jun AP carried the assurance by the CAP lobbying group that it was not disturbed by the dam being blocked, so long as payout is feasible without a dam.

24 Jun UPI also carried the news that the Senate Interior Committee voted “to prohibit construction of any … Hualapai dam” in an amendment sponsored by Senator Hayden. However, Hayden’s move to bar a property tax failed.

25 Jun AP reported Aspinall’s opinion that there would be no bill “in this session”, and he called a damless bill “the death knell for the basin project”—“I am saddened to hear about this. I denounce this. I reject it. I will fight against it.” His efforts to bring harmony  remained on “dead center”, languishing in committee.

27 Jun, Tribune featured a regional clash at a governors’ meeting, with the twist that Texas was petitioning to join the Western group. Reagan of California urged a regional study to avoid “increasing federal domination” of water planning.

27 Jun, AP described plans by Robert Kennedy to go boating on Lake Powell before going below its dam to spend a week boating in the Grand Canyon.

27 Jun AP again carried Reagan’s call for state leadership of water studies to avoid federal domination. He was challenged by Utah’s Democratic governor saying action by the states was not the solution; federal financing of reclamation was well accepted.

27 Jun, Sentinel listed various amendments adopted by the Senate Interior Committee, likely to change the bill markedly.

29 Jun, AP however had Allott pledging to fight to the finish, and characterized the fight as Democrats vs. Republicans, with the former “ruthless in defeating meritorious amendments”.

29 Jun, Republic’s Cole wrote of further defeats for Colorado-California amendments trying to limit the CAP. Fannin predicted completion of work the next day. Kuchel said he would not seek to delay action after his attempt to substitute the 1966 bill was defeated.

29 Jun Republic editorialized about the Udalls finally being disenchanted with trusting California to help Arizona get its CAP.

30 Jun marked Committee approval of the CAP bill 13-3. Several papers carried the story.

Jackson called it a “good, a fair” bill. Foremost among the late additions was the authorization of all five Colorado projects. However, the guarantee for California was limited to 27 years — a “meaningless” provision according to Kuchel, since a water squeeze was not likely for 30 years. Hualapai dam was dropped and blocked. There was no study for importing water. RMN featured Allott’s disapproval and apparent doom for the bill since Colorado was not “wooed into the fold”. Kuchel and Allot rejected the attempt to seduce Colorado; Aspinall holds the trump card.
  Hewlett of the Tribune called the billion-dollar bill “stripped down” since there was no dam nor import study. Utah was offered some help on its Dixie project, but still complained about the dam & study.
  Cole of the Republic reported the Arizonans’ lauding Jackson’s “superb” leadership; the latter predicted the House would approve this bill if it reached the floor there.
  Important provisions: CAP, 5 Colorado projects, lower basin fund, limited California guarantee, prepayment of pumping power supply, Yuma gets a priority for river water, New Mexico gets 18,000 af more water, Hualapai dam moratorium, Utah gets dollars for its Dixie Project.
  Allott spurned the bill: “shameful disgrace”, “insidious exercise in futility”, “another boondoggle plague”. He fulminated: “One state dominates a region.” The upper basin states’ fate is “permanently sealed” with no further projects “politically” feasible. Sec Udall lacks “intestinal fortitude”. Strangely, he called the 1966 approach “realistic”.

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