CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - EXTENSIONS OF REMARKS
February 8, 1960
Tour by Three Senators of Soviet Dams
EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. FRANK CHURCH of IDAHO IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
Monday, February 8,1960
Mr. CHURCH Mr. President; I was privileged recently to meet with the Interior and the Public Works Committees, to hear the report of the distinguished junior Senator from Utah, the distinguished junior Senator from Maine, and the distinguished senior Senator from Alaska, on their findings about the progress of the Soviet Union in the field of hydro electric power development. They made an intensive study in a 6-week, 13,000-mile trip last fall.
An account of this trip was contained in the publication I. F. Stone's Weekly of January 18, 1960. This account reflects the great importance of this study, and I ask unanimous consent that it be printed in the Appendix of the RECORD.
There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
WHY THE U.S. POWER TRUST WISHES RUSSIA WOULD KEEP ITS IRON CURTAIN SHUT TIGHT TOUR BY THREE SENATORS OF SOVIET DAMS SPARKS PUBLIC POWER FIGHT HERE
One U.S. industry which wishes that Russia would stop lifting the Iron Curtain is the private electric power industry. It fears a glimpse of Soviet progress in this field will stimulate public power in this country. Power interests have opened an attack on a dramatic report made public January 4 by three liberal Democratic Senators on the giant progress in the U.S.S.R. (and China) in hydroelectric power development. The three, Moss of Utah, Gruening of Alaska, and Muskie of Maine, made a 12,500-mile trip through the Soviet Union last fall.
Perhaps the most important story about the trip is only hinted at in the report. The Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs published a preliminary report at the end of 1957 on the work being done in the U.S.S.R. and China in power development. In the middle of 1958 the Senate unanimously passed a resolution directing the Interior and Public Works Committees to make a joint study. Arrangements were made under the Soviet-American exchange program for a visit of inspection to dams and powerplants in U.S.S.R. in the fall of 1958 by a delegation to include representatives of the two Senate committees, the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Power Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and interested private organizations.
INTERIOR RAISED OBJECTIONS
Interior Department, which has been under the influence of private power interests since the Republicans took over in 1953 began to throw up bureaucratic roadblocks. It objected that two representatives of public power interests would be included in the trip -- Clyde Ellis of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Alex Radin of the American Public Power Association. While Interior held up the exchange, Edison Electric Institute, general staff of the power trust, hastily sent two delegations, the first to European Russia, the second to Siberia, turning in two grudging reports. It took an angry series of letters from Senator FULBRIGHT to the State Department before the way could finally be cleared for a Senate delegation to make the visit this fall. The original plan, which would have allowed TVA, Army Engineers and the Federal Power Commission to have a look at Soviet projects, is still on the shelf.
The three Senators took with them, with Ellis and Radin, two Truman Administration officials with wide experience of hydroelectric development, former U.S. Commissioner of Reclamation, Michael Straus, and former Assistant Commissioner Harvey McPhail. Their 175-page report, ignored or buried in the press, gives a vivid picture of the enormous dams being erected in the Soviet world. "The Soviet power program," it concludes, "has produced the largest hydroelectric stations in the world, yielding the greatest projected volumes of electricity from the largest generators connected by the longest transmissions operating at highest voltage."
CHINA BUILDING THE BIGGEST DAM OF ALL
The visiting Senators saw Kuybyshev Dam, which, when completed in 1958, took from Grand Coulee the title of world's largest. Stalingrad Dam, already operating, which will be bigger than Kuybyshev when completed in 1961; and Bratsk Dam at Lake Baikal (with more water than all our Great Lakes combined) which will be bigger yet. They were told of the work begun on Krasnoyarsk which will surpass Bratsk and of an even more grandiose project underway in China.
There the Chinese Communists, utilizing plans first drawn up by John Savage of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation during War II, are building a dam at the Ichang Gorge on the Yangtze River which "will be 12 to 20 times the size of Grand Coulee" when completed. The report hints at the need for a "similar" study of what is going on in China. It would be if good if our first official exchange of visits with Peiping centered about so fundamental and constructive an activity as hydroelectric power.
The United States is still far ahead of the U.S.S.R. We have 142 million installed kilowatts compared with the Soviet's 53 million. But the Senate committee says the Russians could overtake us by 1975 unless we or they slow down. The Senate report is discreetly silent on one point -- the way in which dog-in-the-manger private power monopolies restrict development in the country. But Senator BENNETT in an attack so swiftly he could hardly 'have had time to read the full report' says that "reading between the lines, it is clear that the committee staff believes expansion of our public power program is the key to our future in the power field."
POWER GOING TO WASTE AT GRAND COULEE
The problem is not simply one of expansion but of more fully using existing facilities. The report touched a sensitive point when it said the Soviet is extending its grid system until eventually it will cover the whole U.S.S.R. "The efficiency and economy of shifting peak power loads over a geographic area that embraces seven time zones from Leningrad to Vladivostok," the report says, "is apparent to any housewife whose lights have dimmed at dinnertime when electrical use is heavy." The Soviet plan is in sharp contrast with the absence of planned or actual transcontinental inter-ties in many parts of the United States and the lack even of local inter-ties in many parts of the United States." These inter-ties enable surplus power quickly to be switched from one section to another to take advantage of the fact that peak usage varies from one section to another.
In this country private power companies have fought grid system expansion, fearing it would lead to greater public control and ownership. In fact a major battle is brewing at this very session over proposals to build transmission lines which would make surplus Bonneville power from Grand Coulee available in California's Central Valley.
The private companies are fighting a rear-guard action to delay or control any such interchange. They blocked action at the last session, and Interior Department is helping them. The Senate report may figure in the coming debate. BENNETT already attacks it for the startling recommendation that the Federal Government "embark on a massive program to build transmission lines to interconnect Federal Projects." Though the report speaks of interchanging private power as well, BENNETT says: "Quite clearly the Committee wishes to push us far down the road toward complete nationalization of power transmission facilities."