New Deal II: The Next Dam Thing?


Via Earthwatch Radio, the book "Big Dams of the New Deal Era: A Confluence of Engineering and Politics," by David P. Billington and Donald C. Jackson, University of Oklahoma Press (2006), reminded us about a couple of earlier posts on TreeHugger: like this one on a glut of green power in the US Pacific Northwest and especially this one, looking at the value of upgrading existing hydro facilities. Historian D.C. Jackson is quoted in the Earthwatch report as saying:- " of the legacies for New Deal projects in the '40s, '50s and '60s is the federal government becomes seen as the source of revenue for developing projects". The obvious simile: if private sector investment and US Federal and state tax incentives appear insufficient to meet the challenge posed by Climate Change, do we create a New Deal II? And, if so, what sort of large-scale projects should be included in the New Deal Revival? Upgrading hydro plants -- not big enough. How about adding grid connections to the Saudi Arabia of wind (the Dakotas)? Important, but specialized, and without long term employment benefits. How about extensive reforestation projects, in parallel with numerous greenfield Ceetoh facility builds? The latter would have the broadest set of social and environmental benefits, and acknowledge a critical parallel role for the private sector, which is just now designing pre-commercial scale Ceetoh (cellulosic ethanol) production equipment. We realize this notion won't please the free market utopians; but, a mid-century climatic emergency, per the report of Sir Nicholas Stern , would cause adverse economic effects far worse than the Great Depression that preceded the original New Deal. Are you listening 2008 US Presidential candidates? Call it Future Deal if you like. Time to get started: even pioneer species like Bigtooth Aspen (leaf, as pictured) take 20 -30 years to be ready for harvest. Image credit: New York College at Cortland