The rent on Hetch Hetchy is not high enough

John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt

John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt

Just when you think the great comedy act that is California water politics has exhausted itself, another white-faced, red-bulb-nosed, big footed character climbs out of the Golden State’s Great Clown Car.

Comes now the Honorable Devin Nunes, he of the muscular, fiercely independent southern San Joaquin Valley, suggesting that the Department of Interior up the rent it charges San Francisco for the effete liberal city’s use of Hetch Hetchy Valley from the current $30,000 per year to $34,000,000 per year.

In a Nov. 4 letter helpfully posted by Michael Cannon, Nunes wrote to the congressional deficit-cutting “super committee” suggesting legislative language and the argument for making the change:

The Raker Act, enacted nearly 100 years ago, mandated that the City of San Francisco pay the Department of the Interior a meager annual charge of $30,000 for the easement to use Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park as a water reservoir. Even with the negative effects to the environment, this annual charge, set in the early 1910s, has never increased. Furthermore, since the construction of the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System a century ago, the environmental damage to our nation’s flagship National Park has never been mitigated.

Is it wrong of me to see this as a first step toward restoring Hetch Hetchy to its great glory, and to think of Devin Nunes as a great environmental champion? Is Nunes showing his true colors, his inner John Muir?

Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.

Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican, too.


  1. I always thought of Devin Nunes’ act as more of a puppet show, so my question is, what is the puppet masters goal here ?

  2. It’s a complete non-starter, Chris. Nunes like to perform.

    Also: “muscular, fiercely independent southern San Joaquin Valley”? Branching out into humor writing, John?

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