Dr. Strangelove is Back!
The Navy wants to electrify the Hill Country with 3000 square miles of buried antenna beaming through the earth to nuclear submarines.
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By the end of this decade it is quite probable that Central Texas will be the electric heart of the nation’s number one defense communications system, an enormous underground radio transmitter covering somewhere between 1600 to 3200 square miles. It will be located approximately 60 miles northwest of Austin in the hill country around Lake LBJ. The Navy has given it the code designation Project Sanguine. Although 15 years and over $58 million have been spent on Sanguine to date, final plans for its construction have not yet been submitted to Congress.
Texas was not the only site considered for Sanguine, nor was it the Navy’s first choice. Originally the Navy wanted Sanguine built in the Chequamegon National Forest in northern Wisconsin, but opposition from the state’s leading environmentalists and politicians forced them to look elsewhere. On January 10, 1973, then Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, a Wisconsin resident, directed the Navy to concentrate on Texas in their planning for Sanguine.
Sanguine would enable the Navy to send messages to its submerged missile-firing submarines. The Navy currently depends on a worldwide network of land stations which, it says, is marginally reliable at best and which cannot communicate with submarines unless their antennas are on or near the surface. Sanguine would have the unique ability to send messages from a single site in the United States. In addition the Navy claims that Sanguine’s signals could not be jammed and that its size and underground location would make it virtually bombproof. These features would, in the Navy’s view, insure the credibility of our nation’s nuclear deterrent system.
Sanguine will be used primarily to send the attack code to Polaris and Poseidon submarines in the event of a nuclear war when all other forms of communication have been bombed out or jammed. This short attack code would consist of an address in a strategy book, something like “Page 97.” Unable to send long detailed instructions, Sanguine would have to depend on predeveloped war strategies which could be carefully documented and updated, if necessary on a daily basis, by normal communication channels.
One drawback to Sanguine is that it will only provide for a slow one-way communication; it can send messages, but it cannot receive them. If Sanguine ordered a submarine commander to fire missiles bearing nuclear warheads, he would have no way of confirming that order unless ordinary communications were operational. If not, he would have to follow instructions and fire away. These limitations do not seem to disturb the Navy.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word “sanguine” as: 1) Of the color of blood; 2) Having the temperament and ruddy complexion formerly thought to be characteristic of a man dominated by this humor, passionate; 3) Eagerly optimistic, cheerful. While Sanguine may not be the most bloody cheerful project ever undertaken in the name of national defense, the Navy sees it as a necessity and argues that it will provide the best solution to the problem of communicating with nuclear submarines without requiring that they surface, thereby making themselves vulnerable to attack.
Sanguine will use the extremely low frequency (ELF) range of the radio spectrum transmitting messages at 45 to 75 Hz (cycles per second). The broadcast range of AM radio stations is from 540 to 1600 thousand Hz; television stations broadcast at hundreds of millions of Hz. These higher radio frequencies can transmit a great deal of information in a very short amount of time, but they cannot penetrate water more than a few feet. ELF radio waves, such as Sanguine will use, can penetrate deep beneath the ocean’s surface and can be detected at great distances.
It is characteristic of low frequencies that they produce radio signals with long wave lengths. This poses a major technical problem for Sanguine because its broadcasting antenna, if it is to work well, must be a significant portion of one wave length. The high television frequencies have wave lengths a few feet long, so in their case a small compact antenna will do. For 45 Hz, a possible Sanguine frequency, one wave length measures 4140 miles. The antenna lengths considered for Sanguine, while many miles long, are still only a fraction of that distance.
However, the Navy asserts that “trade-offs between antenna size, antenna configuration and power requirements can be made.” It may take a relatively large amount of power to send a rather small amount of information, but the Navy believes that this inefficiency is acceptable “because once the signal is transmitted it loses very little strength and penetrates water well.”
Initial estimates of Sanguine’s size ranged from 10,000 to 22,500 square miles. These estimates have since been reduced, and Navy scientists are now speculating that the system need not be larger than 3200 square miles.
In a full-scale installation Sanguine would consist of a grid of antenna cables buried six feet underground parallel and crisscrossing each other to produce an omnidirectional signal pattern. The cables would be grounded at each end to provide an earth return circuit. Approximately 100 transmitters would be buried in hardened capsules 35 feet underground at the various points where the antenna cables intersect. Sanguine will beam its low frequency radio signals into the ionosphere, an electrically charged belt of gases 50 miles above the earth. The signals will then travel along the lower portion of the ionosphere dropping down bit by bit as they circle the earth.
The Navy still maintains that the Laurentian Shield bedrock of northern Wisconsin offers the best site for Sanguine because of its low conductivity and generally homogeneous structure. The Llano Uplift west of Austin has a similar subsurface geology. Both sites have a pre-Cambrian granite foundation which, because of its low electrical conductivity, makes the current flow in deep loops, several miles into the earth, to get from one end of an antenna cable to the other. This in turn allows for good transmission of Sanguine signals.
The power required to operate Sanguine will be purchased from local power companies, but there will also be a number of auxiliary generators located along the buried cables for emergency use (i.e. in case of a nuclear attack when commercial power sources have been destroyed). Operation of Sanguine will be on a continuous basis. The Navy expects Sanguine to use 20 to 30 million watts of power, which can be compared to the average amount of power needed to run a town of 20,000 inhabitants.
The first serious criticism of Sanguine’s feasibility was made by University of Wisconsin professors Alwyn Scott and Michael McClintock, and Professor Albert Biggs of the University of Kansas. They said it would take approximately two hours to send a simple 12-letter message by Sanguine and that such a time lag would make the system worthless. They also claimed that the system could be easily jammed and that thunderstorms or the explosion of hydrogen bombs would block it with interference.
A National Academy of Sciences Ad Hoc Panel on Sanguine was formed to investigate these charges. The panel consisted of five distinguished scientists in the field of electromagnetics and concluded in a report issued in April, 1972, that “the results of the test transmissions made so far…strongly suggest that the Sanguine system contemplated by the Navy would work substantially as they anticipate.” However, the panel was careful to explain that their report was not conclusive and referred only to the technical aspects of Sanguine. The panel did not address itself to the environmental or economic implications of the proposed system and warned that “the implications of a major design error would be serious.”
“The panel does not comment on the desirability of a Sanguine system, nor on its feasibility in the economic or political sense,” the report said. The scientists did not consider questions on ecological effects, buried pipe corrosion, electric currents induced into long wires and metal fences, mitigation of telephone, radio and TV interference, site-selection criteria, or alternative ways of solving the operational problem for which Sanguine was proposed.
One of the panel members, Dr. Charles Harrison, an applied physicist at the Atomic Energy Commission’s Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, resigned in protest a week before the report was made public. In a separate report, Harrison claimed the Navy was trying to railroad Sanguine through Congress and filed a separate report stating “there is considerable evidence that Sanguine will not work as an efficient means of communicating with U.S. submarines worldwide. If it does work, it may take 100 times more power than the Navy estimates and cost billions instead of the Navy’s estimated $750 million.”
Harrison’s report was reviewed by Dr. Ronald King, a professor of applied physics at Harvard University, who concurred with his findings.
Sen. Gaylor Nelson, D-Wisc., said that if Dr. Harrison is correct “Sanguine would require the construction of at least six of the largest power generators ever built in the United States, and this much power dispersed into the Sanguine antenna could turn northern Wisconsin into an environmental no-man’s land.”
THE INITIAL PLANNING FOR SANGUINE took place between 1958 and 1963 during some of the peak years of the Cold War. It was “better to be dead than red,” and you could always find a bumper sticker to remind you of this fact. The John Birch Society had its heyday, and successful Birchers managed to get Mark Twain expelled from high school English courses. The Russians had sent up their first Sputnik and apparently shot ahead of us in the “race for space.” Vice President Richard M. Nixon became the man who could stand up to Khrushchev, and billboards allover the country showed him with his finger in Khrushchev’s face.
Then came the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nuclear war seemed imminent and those who could afford it were seriously considering building bomb shelters, stocking up on canned foods and doing anything else that might be necessary to survive the impending catastrophe. It may all seem far removed from the situation today, with Brezhnev and Nixon arm-in-arm, but Sanguine was conceived in the political atmosphere of those tense and fearful years.
However, Sanguine did not surface in the public eye until 1969. Plans to build the system in Wisconsin were announced July 1, 1968, but not until a year later did the public become aware of it. A Governor’s Ad Hoc Committee to Evaluate Sanguine Problems was set up immediately in response to public interest. The chairman of the Committee was Dr. Robert M. Bock, dean of the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin. In a telephone interview he explained the Navy’s initial silence.
“The Navy did not advertise before the fact; they advertised when a citizen’s group found out about it and generated the first publicity,” Bock said. “The Navy’s strategy was obviously to move in a series of steps, each one of which looked relatively harmless, but when taken together would put Sanguine at a point of no-return. In other words, they could’ve moved ahead to a point where they had made enough commitments and gone far enough where they could use the argument that ‘well, you can’t waste all that investment.'”
One fear Bock expressed was that Sanguine, although promoted as a relatively low power system, might, when the Navy had gone far enough, be increased greatly in power with the argument that “it doesn’t work, but we’ve got too much invested in it now turn back.” If this occurred it would probably be necessary to build a huge power plant to fuel Sanguine. One has only to look at what has happened in recent years to the Four Corners region of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah to understand why this is of such crucial concern. The Four Corners region was once noted for its beautiful clear skies and was a place where astronomers would go to study the heavens. Because of an immense electrical power plant that was built there in 1969, it is now one of most polluted areas of the country.
But one shouldn’t jump to conclusions. The Navy insists that Sanguine will not be built unless it can be made environmentally compatible. Still one should realize that what “environmentally compatible” means to the Navy may not be what it means to everyone else. Of major concern is the possibility that unforeseen problems will arise after Sanguine is constructed. If that happens, hindsight will be of little value.
“Our experience working with Sanguine has been that it is necessary to have a concerned full-time monitoring of the Navy’s plans and progress, because very often their engineers are simply not sensitive to the needs of the state,” Bock said. “Nevertheless, the Navy has been very cooperative when we have documented facts to show what is needed—then they try to modify their system so that it becomes compatible. But I shudder to think what would have been built in Wisconsin had no one monitored the Navy.”
When the Navy first came to Wisconsin they were considering a baseline system which would utilize 500 million watts of power and cover an area of 22,500 square miles. It included 240 transmitter sites and 6000 miles of underground antenna cable with a l00-foot-wide cleared right-of-way. Conclusions drawn on this hypothetical system caused a public furor, the repercussions of which were never quite overcome. The Navy was quick to explain that their baseline figure were never intended to reflect the actual dimensions of Sanguine, but at that point it was too late to completely dispel the public’s fear.
The concern over the effects of Sanguine’s electromagnetic field lessened somewhat after the Navy made the distinction between its baseline system and the system that would actually be built. If Sanguine used 30 million watts of power rather than 500 million, its potential danger to the environment would be greatly reduced.
Certain technical problems related to its widespread electromagnetic field will still have to be remedied. Sanguine’s electromagnetic field will induce currents into long metal objects such as fences, railroad tracks, powerlines, telephone lines and pipelines. Fences and railroad tracks near an antenna cable could receive an electric charge sufficient to shock a person. The extra voltages induced into powerlines could cause lights to flicker and home appliances such as televisions and radios to perform erratically. Sanguine could cause nearby telephones to ring whether anyone were calling or not. Underground pipelines in the Sanguine vicinity would be susceptible to corrosion due to the currents induced in them. Although these particular effects can be expected, techniques to mitigate them have long been in use and will be employed.
Navy officials have made it clear that the expense of mitigation will be included in Sanguine’s budget and will not be passed on to the local inhabitants. John Hennessy, Congressional and Public Affairs Officer for the Navy Electronics Systems Command in Washington, said “the mitigation techniques used by the Navy will actually upgrade the electric services in the area where Sanguine is located.”
One shock hazard that cannot be mitigated will occur in areas where the antenna cables are grounded. If a person or animal were to stand over the buried grounding cable, with one foot directly over it and the other a short distance off to the side, an electrical current would flow through his body. The intensity of this shock would depend on the amount of current flowing in the antenna cables, the size of the grounding system (a large grounding system would reduce the current flow at one point), soil conditions, and the distance of separation between the feet. Larger animals like cattle and horses would be more vulnerable for this reason. The Navy will probably fence off these areas to keep people and animals out.
The Office of Naval Research reports that the electromagnetic fields produced by Sanguine would be no greater than those produced by commercial power lines in many rural areas. It also points out that many home appliances such as a woman’s hair dryer generate fields several times higher than those expected at the surface of an antenna cable. Furthermore, “Electric field strengths near commercial radio and television transmitting antennas are orders of magnitude higher than those expected from Sanguine.”
While these comparisons may seem reassuring, there are several important differences between Sanguine’s fields and those mentioned above. Sanguine’s buried antenna cable would use the earth to establish a return current path. Commercial power systems differ in that they employ wire return paths. Thus, the effects of the current passing through the earth must be explored. Also, Sanguine will operate continuously, day and night, year in and year out, unlike a woman’s hair dryer or an electric oven or any other household appliance. And, finally, Sanguine’s electromagnetic field will extend over a much larger area than those produced by commercial radio and television antennas.
The most serious and far-reaching questions associated with Sanguine have to do with the effects of its electromagnetic fields on plants, animals and people. These fields may be dangerous to living organisms or they may have no effect at all.
The Bio-Medical Subcommittee of the Navy’s Inter-Techniques Advisory Group stated in January, 1970, “Because the concept for Sanguine calls for an earth return pathway, all parts of living systems in the soil, on the soil, in water, etc. could be affected unless design goals were carefully selected to prevent biological reactions.”
The first research to discover the side effects of Sanguine’s electromagnetic field on biological organisms was conducted by Hazelton Laboratories, Inc. (HLI) under a Navy contract. Before examining the findings of this study, it is interesting to look at a statement made by HLI in their 1968 proposal to the Navy: “It is our opinion that such animals as groundhogs are not of sufficient economic value to be of concern.” This statement disturbed many environmentalists in Wisconsin who feared that other “value-less” organisms might also be ignored. If, for instance, earthworms were killed or driven from the soil this could drastically alter the balance of nature in the northwoods. A Texan might wonder the same thing. Would armadillos and jackrabbits fall into the same “worthless” category as groundhogs? Probably so.
This statement was eventually amended; the proposal was approved; and HLI was contracted by the Navy to conduct preliminary research on the biological effects of Sanguine. The results of this study were, for the most part, inconclusive. Among the findings reported were indications of seed growth retardation, increased blood pressure in some dogs, reduction of soil organisms near the grounding terminals, avoidance of electrical fields by aquatic life, and mutagenesis of fruit flies at an unusually high rate. Due to procedural faults in the research conducted by HLI, no firm conclusions as to Sanguine’s effect on biological organisms could be drawn.
In addition to the HLI study the Navy has filed two Environmental Impact Statements on Sanguine, a draft statement in April, 1971, and the final statement a year later. Both statements say essentially the same thing: No adverse effects have been noted at the Navy’s Clam Lake test facility in Wisconsin during its three years of operation. And it is the Navy’s opinion that their proposed ELF communications system can be made compatible with the environment. These statements have been criticized by a number of groups, including the Governor’s Ad Hoc Committee on Sanguine in Wisconsin, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service which questioned the entire test procedure on the basis that there was not sufficient knowledge about the test site prior to its development. Another criticism was that the test facility had only operated 25 to 40 hours a week whereas Sanguine would operate continuously, and that the antennas were located above ground whereas the proposed system called for buried antennas.
The Navy has initiated further studies to discover the total environmental impact of Sanguine, and most of these studies will be completed this year. They include biological and ecological research, facilities construction and operation planning, and interference mitigation development. The biological- ecological areas considered in these studies cover a wide range of possible effects: the perception of ELF electromagnetic fields as it relates to the physiological rhythms and behavioral aspects of animals; experiments to determine if there are any side effects on the growth, development, genetic and reproductive factors of lower animals; the possibility that Sanguine’s electromagnetic field might affect the migratory habits of some birds; and its effects on the food cycles of fresh water, soil and land organisms.
The results of a few of these studies were made public in the Sanguine System Biological-Ecological Research Program’s summary status report, April, 1973. Most of the studies have not yet been completed, but the ones that have been completed have failed to show any adverse effects on organisms. One of these studies was a repeat of the fruit fly study conducted earlier by HLI. The test data from this study showed no indication of genetic aberrations in fruit flies.
Even if the results of the present studies on Sanguine’s environmental impact, once conluded, seem to exonerate the system, there will still be plenty of reason for concern. In the opinion of some scientists the subtle and long-term effects of Sanguine cannot be known until the system itself has gone into operation. At that point, of course, the damage would be done and the problem would be how to recover.
Rep. Les Aspin, D-Wisc., in his final efforts to have Sanguine moved out of Wisconsin, wrote former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird on April 28, 1972, saying “A careful study of the latest environmental impact statement reveals economic, technical and even environmental advantages to a site in Texas. I am still convinced that to build Sanguine would be a mistake. But it is clear to me that Wisconsin should be eliminated as a site for the project and the only sensible choice now is between building it in Texas and not building it at all.”
Aspin noted these advantages to the Texas site: “The Texas site will not result in the destruction of vital water resources that would occur in northern Wisconsin. The flat, dry plains of Texas are not heavily forested like northern Wisconsin,” therefore construction costs would be lower and there would be less chance of extensive environmental damage. And Texas’ warmer climate would facilitate the construction and maintenance of Sanguine….” It may surprise the people of Texas to learn that their hill country, “the country of eleven hundred springs,” is actually flat and dry.
The real reason Sanguine was moved to Texas probably had very little to do with the advantages Rep. Aspin foresaw. It probably had a lot more to do with the political ambitions of Melvin Laird. Laird served as a congressman from Wisconsin from 1952 to 1968 when he joined the Nixon Administration. Laird made the decision to move Sanguine to Texas shortly before resigning as Secretary of Defense. One doesn’t have to think too hard to make the connection. At that time Laird was returning to Wisconsin, his home and political power base. It stands to reason that his political future would have suffered had he come home with the responsibility for Sanguine in Wisconsin still hanging around his neck.
Most of the debate on whether or not to build Sanguine has focused on questions of technical feasibility and environmental impact. These questions, while important, are not the only ones to be considered. It would be possible to assume that Sanguine, if built in Texas, would make Austin the number one target for a nuclear war should Sanguine’s retaliation strategy fail to deter a nuclear foe. Also, the nation is confronting an energy crisis with no end in sight, and both Austin and San Antonio have felt the pinch. In the face of this energy crisis and with our economy plunging, Sanguine may not be such a wise way to spend our nation’s resources.
Governor Patrick Lucey of Wisconsin said that he didn’t care if Sanguine could be proven technically feasible and environmentally safe—he didn’t want it in Wisconsin under any circumstances. The Chequamegon National Forest is a prime recreational area in Wisconsin, and Governor Lucey felt that Sanguine’s mere presence would make people hesitant to visit the area and thus endanger the tourist trade.
The hill country of Texas is likewise a prime recreational area, and Sanguine will not make it any more attractive. Sanguine will also be of little economic benefit to the area. During construction as many as 10,000 jobs may be created, but they will end with the completion of the project. From then on only 150 to 300 jobs will be available, most of them on low-skilled maintenance crews. The people who will be in charge of operating the system will be brought in from outside the state.
Sen. Nelson, who led the opposition to Sanguine in Wisconsin, said last year that he would continue to fight the proposed underground communications system even if the Navy moved it to Texas. The Navy has done just that, but it seems to be Rep. O. C. Fisher’s opinion that Texans will embrace Sanguine even if only to accommodate the military. Fisher has said, “Down there (in Texas) we are very conscious of the needs of the military. If Sanguine is in the national interest, we would welcome it.”
A month after the announcement was made that Sanguine would be moved to Texas, Dr. Bock wrote an eight-page letter to Governor Dolph Briscoe detailing the Sanguine controversy in Wisconsin and offering his assistance in helping Texas officials evaluate the system for their state. Along with this letter he sent a summary of the findings of the Governor’s Ad Hoc Committee to Evaluate Sanguine in Wisconsin and an extensive set of background documents. As of yet Briscoe has not responded to the letter or to the offer of assistance. Briscoe has, however, been in contact with Navy spokesmen from Sanguine, as have other Texas officials.
Bock has expressed severe reservations as to whether a Sanguine type system is actually the best way of solving the problem of submarine communication. “I have heard Sanguine touted as the best way only by people directly involved in the Sanguine project.” Bock said. “I have not heard this kind of concession from the satellite communications people or from any other communications areas divorced from the Sanguine interest group.”
At present, Sanguine is in the validation phase of development, the final step leading toward full-scale canstruction of the system. The Navy has received $10 million to continue Sanguine research through fiscal year 1973 ($400,000 of this has been earmarked for environmental research) and is asking Congress for $16 million during fiscal year 1974. During the validation phase, which will last two years, detailed designs for the gigantic antenna and power generating system will be prepared for prototype development. This does not constitute a commitment to construction of a Sanguine system. But as Sen. Nelson has noted, “it is the phase from which it would be most difficult to pull back.”
The Navy has contracted RCA, GTE Sylvania and TRW to conduct the validation phase. They are expected to report to the Navy by the middle of 1974 when two companies will be chosen to prepare full-scale system plans. Construction of Sanguine is not scheduled to start until 1976.
One disturbing side-note to all of this is that Hazelton Laboratories, the first group contracted to do environmental research on Sanguine, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of TRW, Inc. While the 1969 Hazelton contract to discover the biological effects of Sanguine amounted to only $178,000, the TRW contract to build Sanguine, if it is awarded, will be worth $200 million and possibly more. With the possibility of landing a huge contract to build Sanguine, there would be little incentive for TRW’s subsidiary, Hazelton, to discover “environmental reasons” why it should not be built.
Almost as if it had a mind of its own, however, Sanguine keeps moving toward the operational stage—never mind Nixon, Brezhnev, and Mao formally ending the Cold War, never mind energy shortages, environmental problems, citizen opposition, never mind the fact that the hill country is without doubt the most beautiful and distinctive section of Texas.
A complex and constantly changing set of administrators, admirals, politicians, and scientists will be carrying Sanguine through the torturous bureaucratic paths such as a project must follow to become reality. The feelings of Texas politicians are presented elsewhere in this article.
The only missing players in the beginning drama are the people of Texas. Whether they will evict Sanguine, as Wisconsin did, or welcome it, as Rep. Fisher believes, remains to be seen.
I’m patriotic, but this isn’t right
“I’m strong for protection of our country. But I don’t think this is right. I was the first elected official to come out and oppose this project. Some of the business people think it will bring money in, but the Navy is going to bring in their own men to operate it.”
Judge Moore Johanson, county judge, Llano County
Misunderstanding of Sanguine here is widespread
“I’m pro-military and I feel everybody ought to help. There’s just a lot of misunderstanding about what the effects of Sanguine will be. It’s not just one or two of the local chronic complainers, but real substantial citizens who aren’t sure what Sanguine means. I think our ranchers would be co-operative if they really knew all the facts.”
Bill Needham, partner, the Corner Drugstore, Llano
I’ll support it if it’ll work
“I don’t have any opposition to it if it can be worked out to the satisfaction of the ranchers involved. Frankly, I just don’t understand it. We hear rumors that it will electrify cattle and that all the fences will be dangerous. Maybe when the Navy explains it in detail it will make more sense.”
Mac Hutto, city council member, Llano
Sanguine is a boondoggle
“It is a boondoggle. Anytime you mention national security to everybody throws up their hands and says, ‘Oh my God, the Russians are coming.’ So we have to be for it to keep the Russians out of Llano. I mean, is this really necessary?”
Lawrence Bruhl, attorney, Llano
If the country needs it, I’m for it
“I’m not involved because I don’t have any land, so they’re not going to dig up my property. I am not worried about being a nuclear target. As a good American citizen I feel that if Sanguine is what it takes, well, I hope I am man enough to do it. I’m not going to equate my pocketbook with my loyalty or what this country needs; if the Navy is to be believed and they think this is the spot, I am still going to make a living. Most of the people are against it. If I had my druthers, I’d say let us stay like we are.”
Henry Buttery, Buttery Hardware, Llano
What the Politicians Say
Rep. George Mahon (D-Lubbock) serves as chairman both of the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense. In this role he has heard most of the debate on Sanguine, the arguments for and against the project and holds the power of the purse over it. Mahon knows much more about Sanguine than any other member of the Texas delegation and is much more skeptical than the other members. I interviewed Mahon and the counsel to the Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations at the same time.
Ralph Preston: (Counsel, House Appropriations Committee) They had quite a stir up in Wisconsin.
Mahon: You know the people in Wisconsin wouldn’t have it. That’s why the Navy looked for some other place and thought that Texas might be a good place. I have been skeptical about the program itself and I remain skeptical about the program, and I’m a little skeptical as to whether or not the people of Texas will want it. But, so far, I haven’t received any great amount of correspondence in regard to the matter.
Preston: The Navy’s asking for $16 million for the 1974 Sanguine budget, and our committee will have to take some action on that.
Mahon: Before we act on the Navy’s request we will go into it thoroughly and try to evaluate it again in the light of any technological breakthroughs or changes.
Preston: The committee has heard prominent scientists on both sides of the question. The experts are quite divided on the issue. Sanguine is something people need to take a slow and careful look at. You know the conservationists, recreation people, fish and wildlife people, and all those people were against Sanguine in Wisconsin. And those are all powerful groups in Texas. And another thing. You know Sanguine is not like a lot of these defense installations. It’s not really going to be very helpful to an area because it’s not very labor intensive. Once you stick this thing in the ground it won’t take many folks to keep it running, so it wan’t create many new jobs. It’s no big deal in that respect.
Rep. O.C. Fisher (D-San Angelo) is in Texas recovering from heart surgery. I spoke with his Legislative Assistant, Ron Ricks, and from our conversation I gather that Fisher is taking a more cautious stand than he did previously. Ricks said, “Fisher is interested in getting the facts out in the open and analyzing the situation. He feels favorable to the project as long as the Navy answers the objections that have been raised. But he won’t make up his mind until all the information is in and he can see what it involves.”
Sen. John Tower (R-Wichita Falls) is the second ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. I spoke with Tower’s press secretary, Kyle Thompson, and he read Tower’s statement on Project Sanguine. This is Tower speaking: “Because the project is a valid defense requirement, I do not oppose the location of Sanguine in Texas assuming that local interest can be satisfied. The Navy has done extensive research on the environmental impact of the project and reports that its impact will be negligible.”
Sen. Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. (D-Houston) served on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Bentsen has chaired that sommittee’s Subcommittee on Research and Development on several occasions in which Sanguine was discussed. For that reason Bentsen has a clearer view of Sanguine than some other members of the Texas delegation. I spoke with Bentsen’s legislative, assistant, Tim Furlong, about the senator’s stand on Sanguine. He said “Before Bentsen can support the program the Navy will have to answer all the questions concerning the project’s effect on the environment and natural habitat of Texas. Bentsen has called on the Navy to conduct public hearings to answer the questions of local people concerning the purpose of the project and its possible effects. He has asked the Navy to make public all of the studies on the environmental impact Sanguine may have on the central Texas area. The Navy will have to meet these requirements before he will give his support to the project.”
I spoke with Robert Hardesty, Governor Briscoe’s press secretary, about his position on Project Sanguine. Hardesty said, “The Governor is not going to recommend anything or support anything until the Navy has demonstrated to his satisfaction and the satisfaction of the people in the area that they can do this on an ecologically sound basis.”