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The Battle Over Hetch HetchyAmerica's Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism$
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Robert W. Righter

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195149470

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149470.001.0001

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(p.216) CHAPTER 10 Restoration
The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy

Robert W. Righter (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The defenders of the Hetch Hetchy Valley never considered that it could be restored. Once the dam was constructed they lost interest. However, in 1987 Secretary of the Interior Donald Hodel made the rather remarkable suggestion that perhaps the dam could be removed and the scenic wonders of Hetch Hetchy might be restored. After vigorous objection by San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein and many others, the idea was dropped, except for a few like David Brower of the Sierra Club. Elsewhere, restoration became a reality. Engineers breached the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine in 1999. Federal legislation will rid the Elwha River in Olympic National Park of two large dams. Elsewhere, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is weighing the benefits and detriments of dams throughout the nation before renewing their federal licenses. It is possible that more dams will be removed than built in the new century. In regard to Hetch Hetchy, environmentalists formed a group specifically committed to the restoration of the valley. Restore Hetch Hetchy has made great progress since 1999 with the “win-win” solution in which San Francisco would lose no water and only about 40 percent of the generated power, while Yosemite National Park and the American people would receive a “second Yosemite Valley”.

Keywords:   Donald Hodel, Edwards Dam, Elwha River, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, David Brower, Sierra Club, Restore Hetch Hetchy

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