Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dam Battle - April 1968 Press

3 Apr, Congressional Record contained Cong. Saylor’s insertion of the House Interior Committee’s resolution commending Chairman Aspinall for his leadership on the Colorado Basin legislation.

6 Apr, Republic carried the announcement by the Salt River Project that two 1500 MW generators had been ordered for the plant it would build in northern Arizona, of which 400 MW would be reserved to pump CAP water. Construction is scheduled for 1970, and power would be generated in 1973-4.

7 Apr, Sentinel summarized the status on the bill, reported on 26 March. Committee staff was preparing report, due 22 April, at which point Aspinall will request clearance for floor action from the Rules Committee. Cong. Udall & Johnson are in charge of lining up votes. Udall held a strategy meeting of Basin state legislators. Only Wyoming is in opposition. The Californians want the bill done in May, since they have primaries in June. There would be extensive preparation of materials & letters to House members.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Some Numbers To Put Down A Vexing Canard

When writing about the fight to keep dams out of the Grand Canyon, several authors make statements like this one, from eminent historian of the American West, Donald Worster, on pp 275-6 of his Rivers of Empire, 1985:

“Originally the (Central Arizona Project) plan had been to run the pumps on hydroelectricity generated by two more Colorado River dams, one at Marble and the other at Bridge Canyon, the latter creating a reservoir that would bury a portion of the Grand Canyon National Park. (f.n. 21; see below) Once more the environmentalists buckled to battle to save a last piece of the natural, and once more—for the second time in the century—they were victorious. Once more, however, they lost something as well, for the energy to make the CAP go would be derived instead (my emphasis) from coal strip-mined on Hopi sacred lands at Black Mesa in northern Arizona and burned in the Navajo Generating Station near Page, polluting the crystalline desert air with ash and poison gas.”  (The fuller discussion, with footnotes and other examples, is at my blog post of 16 Nov 2016: Lies Float, under the tab DAMS.)

The errors in that paragraph arise in part from an ignorance of the CAP’s history, but more importantly, from a fundamental misunderstanding of how power would have been allocated to move CAP water from the Colorado River over mountains and down into the Phoenix area.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dam Battle - March 1968 Press

The March monthly newsletter of California’s CRA called the Aspinall-led bill a “practical instrument” to deal with western water problems. It stressed that the Californian water interests and congressional delegation now formed a “united bi-partisan front”. Their position came out of a series of meetings led by state Water Resources Director Gianelli. California concessions were: eliminating the “Hualapai pumped-storage hydroplant at Bridge Canyon to calm wilderness enthusiasts” and recognizing Columbia River Basin fears about import aqueducts. The state’s priority to 4.4 maf of Colorado River water is protected unless and until the river’s supply is augmented. In the Aspinall bill, the Interior Department is to act on augmentation. The report ends with another dig at the Columbia Basin states, and the need for “a complete study”.
  Another item cited a water tunnel scheme for Arizona; an open CAP canal might very easily be Reclamation’s grave. And a state CAP plan is “nonsense”.
 A cry of despair claimed 8 million kws could come from the Colorado if only 63 more dams were built.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dam Battle - February 1968 Press

February 1968: a hinge month.

1 Feb, Tucson Citizen laid out a discussion at the hearing between Sec. Udall and Californians, who pressed him on how he would handle a state go-it-alone CAP. Udall noted Arizonans’ “fierce” determination to have a CAP. There would be a lot of hurdles to a state effort. Udall did not want to foresee what that effort would include; he might not even be in office, although he did not think it would be fair to “raise unnecessary obstacles”. As an Arizonan he would pursue it. The Californians noted the difficulty of getting approval for any state dam. Dominy assured Cong. Udall that Reclamation’s assumptions concluded that there was enough water for the Colorado 5 projects, the CAP, and the California guarantee, even in the current drought cycle. Aspinall was reassured, although the Mexican burden would have to be a shared one. He set markup for the day that Congress adjourned for recess in mid-February. Cong Udall called this delay damaging, but not fatal; the sooner the bill gets to the floor early in the session the better.

2 Feb, Citizen reported Cong. Udall as saying there were no surprises, no setbacks in the hearings. Markup would start 26 Feb. Northwesterner Foley drew Sec. Udall to re-emphasize that desalting and rain-making were the most hopeful paths to add to the Colorado’s flow. Udall said that funds from Arizona’s share of revenues from existing dams would mean there was no need for a property tax and that the water price could be reduced.
  In a related article, studies and drafts were discussed among state legislators for starting and financing a state-built CAP if needed.

Dam Battle - January 1968 Press

1 Jan, Tucson Citizen editorializes on the political aspects of this decisive moment.
If the federal CAP bill fails this time, the state is ready to pursue the go-it-alone course. Senator Hayden, his aide Elson, Congressman Udall, Governor Williams, even Chairman Aspinall face political ramifications. The paper sees the first three, Democrats, as most praiseworthy.

1 Jan, Sentinel also analyzes this as the “year of decision”. Sec. Udall is very encouraged, to an “extreme”. Aspinall has scheduled Interior Department witnesses before his committee on Jan 30-1, with mark-up shortly thereafter. Even California is likely not to be inflexible. However, there are warnings about the tight funding for water projects. Udall and Hayden will be gone next year.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Hayden's Point Man: Roy Elson, his view in oral interview

Elson, Roy.  Oral History with Senate History project, interviewer: Donald Ritchie
Interview 9 Transcribed, 6 Jul 1990
Central Arizona Project (CAP), pp 183-208 and 210-8

His words, copied from the transcript are in black; my commentary in blue.

Elson was Arizona Senator Carl Hayden’s chief aide in the 1950’s and 60’s.

I have excerpted relevant sections from his recollections. He always gives credit to Hayden, while putting his own actions and role forward as well. His evaluations of others are useful. However, much of what he says only makes sense if the reader is familiar with the 1963-8 CAP history, and there are crucial questions unanswered.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dam Battle – November-December 1967 Press

1 Nov, Republic carries a press conference by Arizona governor Williams describing his attempt to explain Arizona’s position to upper basin governors. He failed to obtain their support. [Speculative comment: Governors on these water issues were more spear carriers than heavy lifters — the congressional delegations were the brains and the work horses.] Wyoming had said there wasnt enough water, so import studies were needed. Williams pointed out Senator Jackson’s opposition to such studies and his essential role. He also argued that Sec. Udall’s desalting plant to satisfy the Mexican obligation would take until 1980, too long for his state. He believes the others realize Arizona will get its water.

Dam Battle - October 1967 Press

1 Oct, Denver Post predicts the odds are against the current Hayden effort to win House approval for the CAP. However, opponents know “they are in the fight of their lives”, since water for the CAP would deprive the Upper Basin states of their share. Time is pressing Hayden, 90 tomorrow, but there is little doubt he will get the ⅔-vote required in the Senate. But the real battle will be in the House, and so Hayden, accompanied by Arizona Representative Rhodes — who is on the House Appropriations Public Works Subcommittee  — visited Subcommittee Chairman M. Kirwan. Word has spread that, as chair of the public works appropriations conference, Kirwan agreed to go along with Hayden’s move to get the CAP accepted through the appropriations process. However, the House will then have to approve, with the CAP “sticking out on it like an immensely expensive sore thumb”.
   Denver’s congressman Rogers is a friend of Kirwan’s, but when, at their regular breakfast, Rogers brought up the CAP, “Kirwan exploded: Colorado shouldnt be so selfish.” However, after Rogers patiently explained Arizona’s switch from a basin-wide approach to a CAP-only bill, Kirwan concluded he “was in a spot”. Every kind of pressure will now be put on the uncommitted members of the subcommittee. Though rare, such a maneuver to push through the CAP as part of appropriations has happened.
  Hayden’s great power in the Senate will be confronted in the House by the influence of House Interior Committee Chairman Aspinall. He will be listened to on a matter where the committee structure is bypassed to vote on a bill never reported by any House committee. Despite his crotchety disposition, Aspinall is greatly respected, within his committee and the House. Also, the House is in an economy-minded mood. So Californian congressmen will use the tactic of asking House members how they can approve a $1.2 billion reclamation project. [Though the Aspinall version would cost over $2 billion.] The Californians and the Coloradans “have their work cut out for them.”

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dam Battle – September 1967 Press

4 Sep, Post, summary: Arizonans will try to revive CAP in the House next year. They are also planning to travel the go-it-alone avenue. Aspinall has ignored any signals so far. His committee is dominated by upper Basin legislators. Blame for lack of action is put by Aspinall on Sec. Udall’s no-dam initiative. Aspinall is also concerned about whether the money will ever get appropriated for all the projects involved.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

John Saylor and the Grand Canyon, 1950-73*

This “green Republican”, as Smith labels him, played a significant role in the Grand Canyon’s history, first in 1950-1, then in the 1963-8 major dam battle, and finally probably would have in the 1972-5 expansion of Grand Canyon National Park, had he not died (in office) in October 1973.

Assessing that role is not a simple matter, given that during most of his career, he was in the House minority, affecting his political weight even when he was senior Republican on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. Yet those were different times than today. Congress worked differently. Democrats figured prominently on both sides of conservation/environmental/resource/development/Western issues. Saylor was a conservative of his time, and believed in a government that could work and do good, for his district and for the American people. Therefore, it was his responsibility and joy as a legislator to act constructively, to make laws, sometimes to oppose them, but overall to move government along as a positive force in the nation’s life, even as he fulminated against “big government” and “reckless over-spending”. The barn-burners and toadies-to-wealth who wear the Republican label today would scorn and revile his commitments and activities.

John Saylor: A Leader in Conservation and Environmental Issues, A Congressman, A Republican. Yes, a Republican. 1949-73

It is necessary and important, amidst my recounting of the effort to keep dams from being built in the Grand Canyon, to be introduced to John Saylor, U. S. Representative 1949-73, Republican from Pennsylvania. My own experience with Congressman Saylor was limited to 1966-8; his experience with defending our National Park System, and more generally America’s grand natural heritage, extended over a quarter-century of intense and significant environmental debate and change in public opinion and national policy.

A full account of Saylor’s life is provided in T. G. Smith’s Green Republican*. This biography, necessarily, presents a facet of the political history of a time, hard to imagine in this era, when government service was thought of as contributing to the building, widening, and strengthening of the American polity. Saylor, though rarely in the House majority, was as much or more concerned with building up America as he was in heading off wrong-headed policy directions.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dam Battle - August 1967 Press

At the end of July, Cong. Morris Udall organized a river trip for nine of his House colleagues.  The Arizona Republic (1-2 Aug) was represented; here are the intrepid legislators near Phantom Ranch, investigating the Grand Canyon, Udall is the one grinning second from right. More important
 

to the newspaper was that Rodgers Morton (second from left), Republican of Maryland, “was convinced he was wrong in originally opposing” the CAP. After his six days on the river, Morton, “with a first-hand look at the country (was) convinced that the recreation advantages on the river with the dams are tremendous”. He saw that the damsites would not “interfere with Grand
Canyon National Park”, and would tell this to the “conservation groups and garden clubs in my own district” who had been “pressuring” him. Morton was the most outspoken of the group, though another member appeared shocked that the proposed reservoir would not reach to Phantom Ranch.

[This trip had no impact on the course of the legislation, but sad to say, events just downstream did affect Grand Canyon’s future. Orren Beaty, the man in the background fourth from left, slipped while on one of the pontoon rafts and hit his head on the motor, causing a serious enough injury that he was helicoptered out. Six years later, when Morton was President Nixon’s Secretary of the Interior, he was considering the question of whether motors should continue to be used on Grand Canyon trips. Remembering the Beaty incident, he decided that motors should stay while a study was done on river travel’s safety. This led to a 7-year delay in decision-making, and allowed motorboat operators to gain the upper hand in determining river traffic policy.
From my point of view, he showed remarkable consistency in the conclusions he drew in these two situations from his “first-hand look”. You can lead an ignorant person to the library; you cannot make him read books.]