Enviro-crazies trying to get court to tear down the dam that supplies San Francisco's water

The drought (aka, the failure to build new water storage capacity while population doubled) that plagues California has not stopped the fundamentalists of the Green Religion from pursuing one of their most insane demands. They want to tear down the dam that stores the crystal clear Sierra Nevada water of the Tuolumne River and allow the Hetch Hetchy Valley to revert to its natural state, a process that would take many years, of course.

I used to see “Restore Hetch Hetchy” bumper stickers fairly often in the past, but the soaring water bills and threats of ten thousand dollar fines for letting water run off from your lawn onto the sidewalk have made them scarce of late. But that hasn’t stopped the true believers who are suing in state court, hoping to enlist a judge in their lunatic cause and bypass democratic institutions so as to realize their spiritual aim. Alyssa Finley reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Last month, a group of environmental activists organized under the sobriquet Restore Hetch Hetchy sued in state court to raze the O’Shaughnessy Dam and drain the reservoir, which now supplies water and power to 2.6 million Bay Area residents. If successful, the lawsuit would create a severe water shortage in the Bay Area, which has been among the areas least affected by the drought in the West.

Hetch Hetchy and the other dams that supply water to the Bay Area have been an incredible blessing, supplying delicious, pure water. But the crazies who worship Gaia and want to force the rest of us to sacrifice for their spiritual goal want to destroy that blessing. And they are pretty explicit about it in their lawsuit:

According to the lawsuit, the Hetch Hetchy project violates the California constitution’s prohibition of “waste or unreasonable use” of water resources, which must be put to “beneficial use thereof in the interest of the people and for the public welfare.” 

The environmentalists maintain that it is “unreasonable” that the reservoir obstructs their scenic views of “aquatic birds, fish and other aquatic animals, and terrestrial species, including black bears, deer, and other species.” They also grouse that people “cannot fish in the river but must resort to a diminished fishing experience from the shoreline of the reservoir.” Nor can people swim, but it’s not as though there would be much swimming if the reservoir were removed and the natural flow of the Tuolumne River restored.

The environmentalists don’t protest that wildlife is being harmed. Rather, their gripe is that people are being deprived of recreational and aesthetic enjoyment. The group estimates Hetch Hetchy Valley’s so-called existence value—which captures “individuals’ strong desires to be able to visit a restored Hetch Hetchy Valley in the future, to realize their ecological ethics, their altruism toward others and the environment, and the desire to benefit future generations”—at between $44 billion and $113 billion based on their review of other dam removals.

“Existence value” is another way of saying that their appreciation of nature should trump the ability of others to live and work here. Without the water, jobs would disappear and people would have to leave. Ort else find a spare hundred billion bucks or so, and overcome endless environmental reviews on construction of replacement dams, when what’s needed is more water storage. If California had continued to buiod dams and reservoirs to match its population growth, you would not be reading of the “drought” and people would be able to flush their toilets every time they used them.

In my own view, if people think it is morally, aesthetically, or spiritually harmful to supply water to the population of California, then they should take the lead and depart from the state. Go somewhere that doesn’t need dams to supply its water. But of course they expect other people to suffer so they can get their spiritual satisfaction.

The dam and reservoir at Hetch Hetchy are one of the engineering triumphs of the last century, supplying water that is the envy of the world for its high quality and low cost. As a bonus, a lot of clean electric power is provided. But for some poeple, their aesthetic preferences trump all that good.  They are narcissists.

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