12 Environs 1 (1988)

handle is hein.journals/environs12 and id is 1 raw text is: UCD School of Law                          Vol. 12, No. 1
Environmental Law Society                 January 1988
The Raker Act -- Is San Francisco
violating federal law?

By Marc Picker
and Boyd Sprain
Copyright 1987,
U.C. Davis Environ-
mental Law Society
When Interior
Secretary Donald
Hodel announced his
proposal to tear
down 0' Shaughnessy
Dam, drain Hetch
Hetchy Lake and re-
store the valley to
its former natural
state, there was
some predictably
bitter reaction.
San Francisco
Mayor Dianne Fein-
stein followed in
the ideological
footsteps of her
predecessors in lam-
basting the idea as
foolish and touted
the Bay area's

birthright to water
rights obtained by
city leaders at the
turn of the century.
But, what birth-
right does an ille-
gitimate child pos-
sess? And, if the
Raker Act of 1913
which authorized
O'Shaughnessy Dam
wasn't a political
bastard, then what
was it?
San Francisco
gets its rights under
the 1913 bill intro-
duced by California
Congressman Raker and
passed by Congress in
one of the most bit-
ter environmental
battles in history.
But, one factor
left out of the reac-
tion to Hodel's pro-
posal is the Interior

Secretary's legal
ability to carry out
the plan. The same
congressional act
which allowed San
Francisco to use the
valley gave the Inte-
rior Secretary dis-
cretion to regulate
that use and enforce
its provisions, or
even seek reversion
of the entire project
to the federal gov-
ernment if the Act is
A seemingly in-
nocuous bill termed
the Right of Way Act
of 1901 set the stage
for the damming of
Hetch Hetchy Valley.
The bill, offered by
California Congress-

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