html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Greener than thou.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Greener than thou.

I suppose it is possible that the Bush administration and far-right Republican Representative Dan Lungren are tapping into their party's environmental heritage from Teddy Roosevelt. But I think it is much more likely they are acting purely out of personal vindictive spitefulness towards Senator Diane Feinstein. Either way, I am greatly entertained to read that they have come out in favor of draining Hetch Hetchy.

Commenter Jon asks:
Couple of questions....where would he propose the Bay Area get its water from? And how long would it take for the valley to return to any sort of nonlake bottom condition? Also, have there been any reservoir removals on this scale?

Why do I get the feeling this is really more about the SacBee v Chron?

I wrote about Hetch Hetchy before. So, briefly, there is enough downstream capacity in New Don Pedro that San Francisco could store all the water that is now caught behind Hetch Hetchy in New Don Pedro. They wouldn't lose any water holding capacity, but they might have some decrease in water quality and they would have ask Modesto Irrigation District and Turlock Irrigation District real nice if they can share the reservoir. They would also lose some hydropower. Draining Hetch Hetchy is about money, not water.

How long would it take for the valley to return? It would look pretty to a non-botanist layperson within our lifetimes. Mount St. Helens already looks nice again, and that was 1980. To someone who knew what she was looking at, it might take a couple centuries before Hetch Hetchy Valley looked natural again. The water bleaching on the granite will take millenia to weather.

I don't know of other reservoir removals on this scale, but it would be good practice for Glen Canyon. Also, the Chron is the only paper in the state that downplays removing Hetch Hetchy. It isn't just Bee vs. Chron; the LA Times and other papers tweak SF for Hetch Hetchy too.

I don't know that Hetch Hetchy will be drained in my lifetime and I don't even know if it is a priority for me. But the politics of it are very funny. Bush and Lungren have no interest in Hetch Hetchy (and, for the record, I believe that Schwarzenegger probably does. He wants to do dramatic legacy-type projects, and Hetch Hetchy certainly qualifies.). But they loooove making Feinstein and Pelosi come out against the most glamorous environmental project in the state.

Feinstein and Pelosi are from the Bay Area, and San Francisco politicians and civil servants Do Not Want to take down Hetch Hetchy. They have arranged their practices around Hetch Hetchy and they have complete juridiction over that water and power source. They could switch, but it would be expensive and they would have to share storage authority with two San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts. They do not want to negotiate that, pay for it, switch how they operate, introduce any change into what is a sweet system for them. BUT! Even San Francisco politicians and Feinstein and Pelosi have to be a little careful. I have heard rumors from people who know things that polls taken in San Francisco show that the people of San Francisco are very strongly environmental and support Hetch Hetchy removal even at noticeable cost to themselves. SF politicians and the Senators have good reasons for opposing Hetch Hetchy removal, but they almost certainly do not have the support of their own constituents. They are in a perilous place, and I enjoy watching Lungren and Bush put them on the spot for hypocrisy. It would also please me if the groundwork Bush and Lungren are doing simply out of spite becomes the basis for one of the largest environmental restorations in the world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bah, he does hunt doesn't he? And how many acres is his ranch? And his dad's ranch?

I don't think it's fair to assume that all republicans have no regard for the environment.

You may disagree on some issues, but this idea that republicans want to deforest the whole country, and pave over all our national parks is ridiculous.


9:52 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I specifically mentioned the Republican strain of conservation, starting with Teddy Roosevelt. But I don't think that is what is motivating them in this instance.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that was 100 years ago.


11:53 PM  
Anonymous jon said...

Whoa.....that'd be pretty wild if it were to pretty wild if I sprouted wings and started to fly too - or my tub had flames on it...

Here's a link from the Chron


Couple of questions....where would he propose the Bay Area get it's water from? And how long would it take for the valley to return to any sort of nonlake bottom condition? Also, have there been any resevoir removals on this scale?

Why do I get the feeling this is really more about the SacBee v Chron?

If nothing else, it does make for good "finger in the eye" polliticking, spokesperson be, well, damned....

6:12 AM  
Anonymous jon said...


Thankee for your further elaborations and thoughts....interesting to read from afar...esp as a native NorCal person long in the Midwest.... plus it's incredibly sexy when you talk dirty water politics like this....

Remember going thru Yellowstone about two years after the Big Fires and was amazed to see how much new growth there already one hope for if/when HH gets drained...

There - I managed to work flames and large body of water back in the blog. My work here is done for the weekend. Back to reading the dating archives.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the water engineer goddess Megan:

Where does San Diego's water come from?

Cheers, -K.

7:11 PM  

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