Over 100 years ago, the Hetch Hetchy Valley located in Yosemite National Park was dammed and made into a reservoir for the water supply of San Francisco and surrounding areas. This stands as the only time in American history when a single city has used a national park for its own exclusive benefit. How did this happen?
The Hetch Hetchy Valley was located in a national park, and thus fell under the protection of the federal government. Congressional debate occurred between 1908-1913 and Congress ultimately passed a bill, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on December 9, 1913. The great controversy and regret of destroying the valley spurred the creation of the National Park Service Act in 1916 which protected national parks for the enjoyment of all Americans. Yet the environmental blemish of damming and flooding a national park for water storage remains.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has shown interest in restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Zinke met on Sunday in Yosemite with Restore Hetch Hetchy, a group dedicated to draining the dam and restoring this land as a national treasure.
Earlier this month, Restore Hetch Hetchy lost a law suit at the California Fifth District Court of Appeal. While California’s Constitution requires that the “method of diversion” for water be “reasonable,” the court ruled that San Francisco’s use of the Hetch Hetchy Valley as a reservoir did not need to meet that requirement. Restore Hetch Hetchy will now appeal their case to the California Supreme Court.
In terms of government involvement, in 1987, Secretary of Interior under President Reagan, Donald Hodel, supported draining the dam and restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Restore Hetch Hetchy has sought meetings with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior since 2000. According to the Wall Street Journal, President George W. Bush “contemplated a feasibility study” ultimately blocked by powerful San Francisco interests including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. California Democrat, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also stands in opposition to restoring the valley. In addition, Barack Obama made a speech at Yosemite in June 2016, but did not mention Hetch Hetchy.
Maybe we should follow the money. As a result of the Raker Act of 1913, San Francisco “rents” the Hetch Hetchy Valley for a mere $30,000 per year–roughly the same yearly amount as a downtown San Francisco studio apartment.
Opponents of Restore Hetch Hetchy argue that the 2.5 million residents in the Bay Area need water. Save Hetch Hetchy argues that system improvements, water recycling and underground water containment could give the people of San Francisco water and leave Hetch Hetchy, formerly a national treasure comparable in beauty to the Yosemite, for the American people.
In 2004, Sierra Club President Larry Fahn stated:
“Now is the time to complete a full analysis of the feasibility and many benefits of bringing back the treasure of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite. The restoration plan would not “lose” the resource, or require “another clean source of water.” The plan envisions simply collecting and storing the very same water somewhere downslope from Yosemite National Park in the high Sierra.”
Fahn notes that the plan to restore Hetch Hetchy Valley does not remove the water resource but collects and stores the same water in an area located away from the Yosemite National Park. Several studies discuss the feasibility of San Francisco’s water supply without the resevoir including the Environmental Defense Fund’s studies Paradise Regained and the Cherry Intertie Alternative, the UC Davis study called Re-Assembling Hetch Hetchy and the US Bureau of Reclamation study. Multiple studies also confirm the feasibility of restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley including those by the National Park Service and University of Wisconsin.
The Hetch Hetchy controversy highlights the tension between local political interests and national values. It also highlights the Democratic hypocrisy with regards to the environment. Those open to restoring Hetch Hetchy have been the Secretary of Interior under Republican President Reagan and now under Trump. Those who fiercely oppose restoration include Democrats Feinstein and Pelosi. Democrat Barack Obama, the “environmental crusader” did nothing. Ironically, those assumed to be environmentalists may not be. And conservatives, long berated as anti-environment, may actually be for preservation.
Will the real preservationist please stand up? You may be surprised who does.
Originally published on Patriot Post July 26, 2018
Image credit: kvd design/BigStock
The image shows the Hetch Hetchy Valley obstructed by the 430 foot concrete O’Shaughnessy Dam.
Should tax dollars pay for abortions? If you are one of the 60% of Americans who say “no,” you have an opportunity to stop a part of the tax flow to the abortion industry.
Here’s how: Title X is a federal grant program funded by taxpayer money. Unfortunately, some of that taxpayer money funds abortion clinics and services. Planned Parenthood stands as the largest abortion provider in the nation and receives more than $50 million per year from Title X funding.
Health and Human Services (HHS) recently proposed a new “rule” which prohibits Title X funding from supporting abortion providers. The new rule, also known as the Protect Life Rule, requires a physical and financial separation between Title X money and abortion clinics. It proposes regulations similar to the “Reagan rules,” upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan. The rule seeks to
“ensure compliance with, and enhance implementation of, the statutory requirement that none of the funds appropriated for Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
In short, the rule makes sure that abortion providers do not receive Title X taxpayer money. HHS will take public comments until July 31, 2018. After reviewing the public comments, HHS will decide on a final ruling.
In response to the proposed rule, the abortion industry continues to mislead the public with statements that such a rule endangers “healthcare.” Stopping taxpayer money from funding abortion under Title X does not endanger “healthcare” as defined as caring for patients. It does, however, endanger the taxpayer money train which has been supporting Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers for far too long.
Cutting Title X funding to Planned Parenthood would remove approximately $50 million of their current $500 million government stipend. They have over 1.6 billion in assets. They can afford it. They can’t, however, afford the brand damage resulting from a Title X cut. As public opinion shifts, their business model begins to crumble. And the lie that women must have a “right” to buy their product suddenly becomes exposed as a crony falsehood.
Consider the semantics games they play. “Reproductive healthcare” sounds like healthcare for reproduction. In reality, it means ending a woman’s reproductive process. This is not healthcare, it’s abortion. And it is neither healthy nor caring.
“Women’s rights” sound like rights for women, but they really mean the created “right” of women to end the life of their offspring. Is that a right? Is it even morally right?
Many abortion advocates claim, “Our bodies are our own.” But does it not follow that our bodies are our own responsibility and not the responsibility of the government?
What the HHS Title X comment period means to the regular person is this: HHS says Title X tax money shouldn’t fund the abortion industry. If you agree, tell them. If you’ve ever wanted your voice to be heard on taxpayer funding to the abortion industry, now is your chance to have direct input. Every comment will make a difference in the final ruling.
The public comment period ends on July 31, 2018.
Image credit: dolgachov/Bigstock