San Francisco voters on Tuesday soundly defeated a proposal to study draining Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. The Reservoir provides drinking water to San Francisco and surrounding areas.
This was one of the few referendums in Tuesday’s election that I found really interesting. Here’s what I wrote some time ago about the issue:
Wow. Just wow. The voters of San Francisco this November will have the opportunity to vote on a measure to drain the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. Now, if you’re not familiar with the battle over Hetch Hetchy, let me just say that the damming of the Tuolumne River stands as one of the earliest and most pivotal debates about national parks and, really, wilderness in America. This was the fight that made the Sierra Club a national powerhouse and John Muir a legend. This is what you call turning back the clock on what many see as a national tragedy.
And now, nearly a century following passage of the law that allowed the damning of the Hetch Hetchy Valley, San Franciscans will decide if restoring the place Muir described as “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples” is worth more than the cheap drinking water and hydro power they receive from the dam. And if you think that the outcome is a foregone conclusion in ultra-liberal San Fran, guess again. The liberal political establishment is lined up against the measure, while some prominent republicans and the environmentalists are in favor of removing the dam. I’ll be watching this one closely.
I can’t say that I’m surprised by the outcome, but the overwhelming vote against the proposal (77%) comes as a shock. Then again, as I wrote in my post about hypocrisy a few days back, the ultra-liberal eco-conscious voters of San Francisco can hardly be faulted for opposing the measure. After all, they were acting in their roles as consumers, not environmentalists. If it were 1906 all over again and the voters were deciding for the first time whether or not to dam the Hetch Hetchy valley, I tend to believe the vote would have gone in the opposite direction.