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Ms. Rogers, Mr. Astair

Aug
24
2004

The Sacramento Bee, picking up where the Sierra Club has never really left off, has started a series of editorials calling for the dismantling of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir.
Constructed at the turn of the century when Californians were just beginning their fight to subdue nature, construction of the dam which flooded the Hetch Hetchy valley is said to have broken California conservationist John Muir’s heart. “No holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man,’’ Muir said, condemning the project.


The dam – built after a lengthy and colorful debate in Congress – also provides water for San Francisco and much of the Penninsula and Silicon Valley. So The Bee’s decision to write a series of editorials in favor of dismantling the dam means a lot of things, all of them political. And many of them economic.
It means San Francisco is going to have to take seriously the Sierra Club’s campaign to demolish the damn. That means the city, with the Peninsula counties has to look at other sources for water. The Bee doesn’t say so but looking at the politics of this thing, it seems like the editors wouldn’t mind seeing the creation of a regional water authority.
The Bee’s stand on this issue means the city is going to meet with increasing – and increasingly powerful resistance – to its $3.6 Hetch Hetchy renovation plan. That, in turn, means that Supervisor Chris Daly’s appointment of former Sierra Club president Adam Werbach is a lot more important that it first looked. The city’s Public Utilities Commission is supposed to oversee the project that’s one reason why Mayor Gavin Newsom wants former city Treasurer Susan Leal keeping an eye on the books.
Restoring rivers and tearing down the dams built with such enthusiasm during the last century got a much warmer reception when Democrats were in the White House. The EPA would at least talk about it every now and then to placate environmentalists if nothing else. Republicans, clearly no longer the party that fought to create our national park system, have no such worries. They can be counted on to let big construction projects stand. If it’s good for the farmer and the lumber companies, it’s good for all of us. But, uh, San Francisco isn’t run by Republicans.
So, Ms. Leal, what size tap shoes would you be ordering?

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 1:31 PM | Permalink

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