25. GEORGE BUSH APPLIES POLITICAL PRESSURE FOR OLD
It looked like just another political skirmish
between environmentalists and developers. The issue revolved around a controversial
hydroelectric project near Oakhurst, California.
Specifically, the proposed
$5.4 million hydroelectric project would be located on Lewis Fork Creek eight
miles north of Oakhurst in Madera County on the Sierra National Forest. The creek
environment includes the 80-foot Corlieu Waterfall and a national scenic trail
and, because of its proximity to Highway 41, is a popular stopping point for travelers
to Yosemite National Park.
Permits for small hydroelectric projects are
required from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Forest
Service. After some delay because of its concern over the scenic effects on the
popular waterfall, the Forest Service approved the project on December 17, 1986.
Bishop, head of The California Save Our Streams Council, promptly appealed the
Forest Service decision claiming the agency had been pressured by FERC and Vice
President George Bush. Bishop also charged that no public hearings were ever held
on the project.
It turns out that the hydro project developer, Alternative
Energy Resources Inc., is headed by Dale Lucas and Bill Dyer. Dyer's father, retired
oilman Hector Dyer, has known George Bush for nearly 40 years. They were neighbors
in Texas when Bill Dyer was a child and both families were involved in the oil
business. Bush received separate letters from Hector and Bill Dyer last summer.
Responding to the letters, Bush ordered aides to contact FERC and the Forest Service
to try to speed up the project.
After initially denying Bush's role in the
project's approval, a FERC official confirmed in March, 1987, that his agency
acted at the request of Vice President Bush in threatening to bypass U.S. Forest
Service approval of the project. It was after this threat from FERC that the Forest
Service approved the project.
This story probably would deserve no more
media coverage than it received in the FRESNO BEE if George Bush were just another
low-level political official surreptitiously exerting his influence to help an
old family friend make a buck. However, since Bush is the leading Republican candidate
for president in next year's election, one would think that such unethical political
skullduggery would deserve some national media attention.
BEE, 3/3/87, "Vice president's hand seen in Yosemite hydro ruling,"
p Al, and 3/4/87, "Official confirms Bush's role in water ruling," p
Al, both by Lloyd G. Carter.