September 23, 1997
Good Morning. The Subcommittee on National Parks
and Public Lands and the Subcommittee on Water and Power will come to order.
We are conducting this joint oversight hearing to explore the proposal of draining Lake Powell as passed unanimously by the
Sierra Club Board of Directors on November 16, 1996. Any discussion of this issue brings a disbelief from many observers, however, we have with us today Mr. Adam Werbach, President of the Sierra Club who is a strong
proponent of this idea. We expected to have Mr. David Brower with us today but unfortunately his wife is ill and he is unable to attend. Our best wishes go out to the Brower's and we hope everything is fine.
We look forward to the testimony this morning. There will be many questions asked, and I hope that the witnesses can provide sensible answers for the serious consequences this proposal would bring. There are concerns
not only from my State of Utah, but Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Millions of people could potentially be affected with water shortages, electric power outages and loss of millions of
hours of recreational enjoyment.
There is a long history behind the development of the Colorado River, and the Glen Canyon Dam provides perhaps the most interesting history. This Nation's urge to move West spawned the
taming of the Colorado River and turned this once unpredictable resource into a water, energy, and recreation resource for millions of people. Mr. Brower played an important role in the policy to build Glen Canyon dam
and I was hopeful we could hear some of that history today. However, Congress and the President made the policy decision in 1956 to build this dam and millions of people now utilize the resources Glen Canyon dam
provides. Today, over 2.5 million people visit Lake Powell each year. Prior to the filling of the lake, only a few hundred people had ever seen Rainbow Bridge. Now, tens of thousands of people visit Rainbow
Bridge annually, see Hole-in-the-Rock, and thousands of other spectacular views from Lake Powell. I boated on Lake Powell the first year it was allowed and have been going back ever since. I have witnessed the change
from an isolated desert lake to one of the most popular National Park units in the Nation. Thus, I am personally very concerned about Lake Powell, but am also concerned about the people who enjoy its recreation, people
who use the power it generates and the people who need the water it stores.
Now, forty years later, the Sierra Club proposes to turn back the clock and drain the lake in an attempt to restore Glen Canyon. This would
be a complete reversal of the policy path this country chose many years ago. This hearing is designed to put all of the facts on the table and analyze the potential impacts of such a proposal. Everyone is entitled to
their opinion and I have noting but respect for the Sierra Club and their members. We simply want to explore fully this idea so that Congress, the public and the media understand the consequences such a policy change
would have on the Colorado River and the States that benefit from its resources
There are three agencies of the Federal government here to testify this morning. Furthermore, the Executive Directors of Natural
Resources for two states and the Navajo National will testify on the need for Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell for the well-being of the people they represent And finally, we will hear from a broad array of users of the
power, water, and recreation this reservoir provides to millions of people.
I look forward to the testimony we will receive this morning and to the statements and questions of my colleagues. Due to the number of
Members and witnesses we have here today, I will strictly adhere to the five minute rule for opening statements, testimony from witnesses, and follow-up rounds of questions.
I recognize my colleague, Mr. Doolittle of
California, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water and Power for his opening remarks