Bush budget includes $7 million to study removing 405-MW Hetch Hetchy

President Bush’s proposed 2008 budget includes $7 million for further study of a proposal to remove the 405-MW Hetch Hetchy project and restore the project site in California’s Yosemite National Park.

Both supporters and opponents of the proposal were somewhat surprised by the budget item, coming from a Republican administration that, in the past, has opposed removal of operating hydroelectric projects. The line item also drew the opposition of a California Democrat who said the project, including O’Shaughnessy Dam, will not be removed because it is a valuable source of drinking water for San Francisco.

The White House Office of Management and Budget added the appropriation to the proposed budget of the Interior Department’s National Park Service, part of a $2.9 trillion budget submitted to Congress this month. (HNN 2/7/07)

OMB spokesman Sean Kevelighan said the idea for funding to complete conceptual-level studies originated in California, but he could not pinpoint the exact source of the line item. In July 2006, the state of California estimated it would cost from $3 billion to nearly $10 billion to remove the project and restore the site. (HNN 7/21/06)

The state report, produced in response to environmentalist pressure, estimated planning costs for restoring Hetch Hetchy would total more than $65 million, including $7 million for conceptual-level studies, $13 million for appraisal-level studies, $32 million for feasibility-level studies, and $13 million for detailed studies and programmatic documents.

The state report made no formal recommendation about next steps, as Hetch Hetchy Valley is part of a national park and not under state control.

Senator pledges to nix funding

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she would do what she can to ensure that funding for further study of the dam removal and site restoration idea is not included in the 2008 budget.

�The state has done the analysis,� Feinstein said. �It would cost between $3 billion and $10 billion to remove a dam that provides clean drinking water for 3 million people.�

�As chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, I will do all I can to make sure it isn’t included in the final bill,� Feinstein added. �We’re not going to remove this dam, and the funding is unnecessary.�

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