As WWII drew to a close, the Bureau of Reclamation, fresh from its experience building Hoover, Shasta, and Grand Coulee dams proposed constructing new grandiose projects to bring even more irrigated land into production. In the following decades, Congress approved many of these projects. However, the planning and construction of these projects—which coincided with the dawn of the modern environmental era—raised concerns among individuals, organizations, and other government agencies. Aided by a host of new environmental laws they fought to stop construction of many projects. After failing to stop the projects in the courts, environmental critics found a sympathetic ear in President Jimmy Carter. Desiring to slash a massive budget deficit, Carter proposed Congress cut funding to projects with the worst environmental, economic, and safety concerns. Dubbed the “hit list”, the controversy fueled intense debate on the merits of federal water development projects. Ultimately Congress rejected the President’s budget proposals and funded all but one of the Bureau of Reclamation water projects under review.
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