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FOURTH SESSION

Wednesday, November 19, 1913, 10:30 a. m. PRESIDENT PACK–Ladies and gentlemen: I have pleasure in handing over the gavel to Hon. Walter L. Fisher, who will be your presiding officer this morning. I have great pleasure in introducing former Secretary Fisher. (Applause.)

CHAIRMAN FISHER—Ladies and gentlemen, delegates to the National Conservation Congress: It is a great pleasure to me, and an honor which I esteem, to preside over your deliberations this morning, not merely because it is a session of this exceedingly important body, but because the subject which is under discussion is one of the greatest importance and one in which I happen to be very deeply interested personally. I I know there is a convention under which the presiding officer is permitted to indulge in the expression of his views on the subject under discussion before he listens to any one else on the subject, but I am going to violate that convention this morning and postpone anything I may have to say at least until some of the distinguished gentlemen who are here present have had an opportunity to say what they have on their minds.

It was intended this morning to hear from the Secretary of War, the Hon. Lindley H. Garrison, but unfortunately some emergency matters have arisen in the department which have detained him, and he has just telephoned it will be impossible for him to be here at this time. We are, therefore, going to take the liberty of varying the program by calling upon another of the distinguished gentlemen whose names are on the printed list and whose time is exceedingly valuable. I am going to ask Senator Burton to deliver his address at this time. Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Burton of Ohio ! (Applause.)

“CONSERVATION, THE FUTURE OF WATER
POWER”

By Hon. Theodore E. Burton, United States Senator from Ohio

SENATOR BURTON.—Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen: I am extremely glad to meet with this large and enthusiastic gathering called in the interest of conservation. It is a subject which has assumed superlative importance in recent years. The movement is due to a rude awakening, in which we realize we have wasted our natural resources and have not made proper provision for the general weal.

Conservation in its most comprehensive sense begins with the safety of life and of health. It demands that the Federal Government, the states and municipalities should all combine to stay the ravages of disease and prevent the spread of contagious maladies. It takes into account all measures to preserve and to prolong human life. It has regard for the child at school, the waif in the thickly-settled slums of the city, the workman in the factory or the mine or in the lumber camp. It requires the adoption of such policies that the resources of this country shall not be wasted or allowed to fall under monopolistic control. It not only recognizes that the supply of useful commodities, such as timber and coal, have been wastefully depleted, but that new and greater utilities can be developed from agencies which for a long time have been in use on a limited scale, but which are now capable of an immense increase in creative power. This last applies especially to water power, to which I wish to direct my remarks. As regards our natural resources, we are compelled to recognize that they have been wasted and that there has been a marked tendency to allow them to fall under monopolistic control. It is desirable that means should be devised not only to prevent waste, but to provide people utilization of certain forms of energy which have been used in the past, but which are capable of indefinite extension, as I have suggested. That brings me to the subject of water power, which is the best illustration. There are three or four salient facts in regard to water power. First, it is the only great national asset which is not wasted or diminished by use. Second, it is bound to assume almost universal importance in every form of our national life. In the days of our childhood water power was used only at the point of origin. It was applied to the saw-mill and to the grist-mill. It can now be used not only to run our factories and our mills, to furnish power for the trolley line and the railroad or to light our cities, but it can be used in every household and upon every farm. It will come into quite general use for the propelling of wagons and vehicles, it can be used as a motive power for harrows, for plows, for transportation on highways, for heating and for the cooking of food. Indeed, in some portions of Switzerland it has already been applied to all these uses. The magnitude of the water power of this country is very little realized. According to the latest statistics, the amount of energy employed in industry and transportation in this country, expressed in terms of horsepower, is estimated at 31,500,000 units, of which 5,500,000 is derived from flowing water and the remaining 26,000,000 from steam. Let us note how important a factor this supply of power is in the consumption of coal. In the year 1912 there was consumed of coal in this country 427,000,000 tons, of which 78,000,000 were anthracite and 349,000,000 tons were bituminous. More than two-thirds of this coal was exhausted in supplying the power for transportation and manufacture. There is readily available in the United States 30,000,000 of horsepower, an amount almost equal to the present demand, almost exactly equal. In addition to that, by the construction of reservoirs and by the investment of a larger amount of capital, there is a further supply, probably 150,000,000 or 200,000,000 of water power, which can be rendered available. This can be brought about, as I say, by the control of stream flow, the construction of reservoirs, and the invention of means for equalizing the maximum and minimum flow of waters in rivers, the difference between which forms one of the greatest disadvantages in prospective water power development. We must recognize the fact that in the utilization of this power we are in deadlock. The friends of a constructive policy can prevent the old-time obsolete grants, made in perpetuity and with no restraint, while on the other hand those who favor these unlimited grants and large powers stand in the way of a general and comprehensive policy. I do not know that that is altogether a misfortune, because every year furnishes improved plans. We note the march of invention in utilizing water power, and this enables us to frame a better policy. In the year 1906, against strenuous objection, a bill was passed giving to the state of Alabama the right to grant to any individual or corporation the privilege of erecting dams in the Tennessee River, near to the Mussel Shoals Canal. Those who stood in the way of this grant were most violently attacked. But experts went to that locality and reported that the construction of detached and scattered dams would be entirely wasteful; that it was desirable to combine the use of the water power in two great installations, and those who had favored this grant sent telegrams by the score, signed by mayors and business men, pleading that nothing be done under this bill until the further action of Congress. In the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1907 a provision was inserted that no grant should be made until the further action of Congress. That provision stands there unrepealed, and no grant has been made. What is the policy which we should adopt? Let us not engage in any unseemly squabble between states' rights and national control, based on theory. It is a practical question. But it is one which in a peculiar degree calls for national control. (Applause.) By the use of high tension, power can be carried with very little waste for 200 miles. That would mean an area, supplied from one center, of 125,000 miles or more, an area greater than that of all the states of the Union except three, an area almost exactly equal to the combined number of square miles in the six New England and four Middle States. It is impossible that state control should adequately solve this problem. (Applause.) It is becoming important that it should be taken under the management of Federal regulation as are the railroads and the great means of interstate commerce. That does not mean that very important rights, in the form of corporations and in the utilizing of the local development of water power, over a limited area, should not be left to the states; but in this case, as in many of the great problems of modern American life, we must face it, recognize its magnitude and realize that the nation must control this great problem. (Applause.) Several years ago the National Waterways Commission considered this question for months and even for years. As a result of their deliberations a couple of bills were introduced, and those bills are going to be brought before committees of the Senate and of Congress for consideration next month, if possible. I ask the co-operation of all those interested in water power in providing salutary legislation, not a mere enunciation of Federal control, but one which will encourage development and enterprise. (Applause.) This is no crusade against monopoly. It is no means to discourage those who wish to reap profits from the development of this great asset; but it is a recognition of the danger of monopoly and a desire to provide for the public welfare of the people and all the people in the use of this invaluable national asset. (Applause.) One of the first things sought in these bills is to prevent the assignment of rights or franchises without Governmental permission. That is absolutely necessary in order to prevent powerful combinations. If there is combination—and as I said the use of water power in an exceptional degree lends itself to large-scale management and operations—those large-scale operations should be under careful Governmental control. In the second place, there should be a right in Congress or the executive departments to control rates to the consumer. (Applause.) This means more than the mere prevention of extortion here and there. It means a certain degree of uniformity and a great universal system which shall give its benefits, not to one part of the country, but to the whole United States. Another recommendation is in the form of the franchise— there are several forms of franchises suggested—that at will, that which is indeterminate, and that which is perpetual; and while many franchises have been made perpetual, I think there are few, if any, who would favor that plan now. Then are suggested those having a defined tenure. The Commission, after much consideration of this subject, recommended the granting of franchises for 50 years, with the right to control the rates and the other forms of regulation which I have mentioned, and at the end of that time it might be possible for the Government either to take over the water power for itself or to transfer to others. This was with a view to preventing the development in the future of a great monopoly and of giving to the public the benefit of the inventions which may occur; for no one can tell what improvements may be made, what greater importance this asset may assume. It is provided that at the end of 50 years, compensation shall be made, not for the use of factories in connection with the power, but for the generating plants and for the transmission lines. Give an addition, if you wish, of 10 per cent, but on the other hand do not make allowance for the unearned increment which comes from increased value of the land or the other forms of property. (Applause.) Further provisions are advocated with reference to navigable streams, that whenever a water power site is taken up, it may be in the power of Congress or the Executive Government to demand that locks and dams be built by those who enjoy this privilege. A moment's argument I think will show you very clearly that this is entirely fair. The Government, at great expense and on a large scale, has been improving our rivers. Some of them flow through a level country where the expense of improvement is comparatively trivial. Others go through an uneven or mountainous country, where numerous locks and dams must be constructed, and the expense assumes colossal proportions. With these locks and dams, water power of enormous value can be created. Are you going to say that the Government must give away this asset, that one portion of the country shall receive its improvements at a far greatly increased cost and that the Government shall make no distinction between the two 2 It is also recommended that there be a provision in every grant that power be furnished for the management of the lock machinery and for the furnishing of light for these respective locks. I think there are some who hardly realize the sweeping effect of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case known as the Chandler-Dunbar water power case. That decision makes waste paper of many very elaborate legal briefs and arguments on the subject of water

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