America had five new states and they had a big problem.(1)
Homesteaders wanted to move out west, and government wanted to help, but there was a water issue. When rain was happening things were fine but nature is fickle. Weather was less predictable then and even if you lived near a river, there was no guarantee you'd have water.
President Teddy Roosevelt knew the problem well. He was a soldier, sportsman, and statesman, and he'd seen the issue firsthand, so in 1902 he created the Bureau of Reclamation and it set about building and managing dams, reservoirs and canals so that people could "buy locally grown." Today, 60 percent of vegetables in the United States are grown using water from government dams and canals. That's 140,000 farmers on 10 million acres.
Oroville dam spillway. Link: Wikimedia
Yet now environmentalists want them gone.
Yes, even during a pandemic, when agriculture and Amazon were the only thing that kept the country from mass panic, environmentalists continued to want farmers out of business.
In 2017, flooding threatened Oroville dam in California and environmentalists touted how unsafe it was. It was a refrain they had been issuing since the 1970s, when the "anti-" contingent in environmentalism replaced people who cared about being a positive force for nature. What they left out of their narrative is that improvements to Oroville dam had been blocked repeatedly by...environmentalists.
Environmentalists and other Democrats also tried to blame President Bush for Hurricane Katrina devastation a decade earlier, but those claims died down when the Army Corps of Engineers reminded the public that the improvements needed to prevent flooding had been tied up in the courts since the Clinton administration - by environmental lawyers.
We can't be too surprised that groups who make money suing and settling find new things to sue about, but we should stop allowing them to call themselves progressive when they want to retreat to the past.
There is a reason Teddy Roosevelt won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize and is on Mount Rushmore. He was a progressive when that meant paving way for the future by being stewards of the present. He would be ashamed of the social authoritarians who have conscripted the term progressive today, because they want to deny science and retreat into the past.
(1) We did not get all that were proposed. No West Dakota, Yellowstone, West Texas, South Texas, Rio Grande, Northern California, Southern California, or Wallowa.
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