The New Deal:Tennessee Valley Authority DBQ:
Was it successful??
Was the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) a federal program that would bring jobs and electricity to rural towns in the region? Or was it an expensive, poorly planned federal program that taxpayers would have to shoulder and that would also cause many environmental problems?
Use your knowledge of the Great Depression, and documents A, B, C, and D to answer the questions at the bottom and the essential question below.
“The continued idleness of a great national investment in the Tennessee Valley leads time to ask Congress for legislation necessary to enlist this project in the service of the people. It is clear that the Muscle Shoals development is but a small part of the potential public usefulness of the entire Tennessee River. Such use, if envisioned in its entirely, transcends mere power development; it enters the wide field of flood control, solid erosion afforestation, elimination from agricultural use of marginal lands, and distribution and diversification of industry.”
“The TVA has therefore appeared to be on the side of the angels in the controversy between it and the utilities. But the conservation program of the TVAS is only a masquerade. It has no functional connection with the power program of the Authority, and the amount spent on it is only an insignificant portion of the Authority’s total expenditures. Other departments of government, both state and national are charged with the duty of caring for soil erosion and are doing such work effectively without the building of dams and power facilities… The American people are paying more than half a billion dollars for eleven dams, chiefly designed to supply power to one area. But this power is to be supplied to this are at less than cost… TVA will operate annually at a deficit, and these deficits must… be paid for out of the pockets of the taxpayers.”
- From “Political Power” by Wendell L. Willkie from Atlantic Monthly 160 (August 1837)
“One of TVA’s original missions was the manage the region’s natural resources, but the agency has long invoked the ire of environmentalists. TVA… was the leading promoter of destructive coal strip-mining…TVA still remains the nation’s worst violator of the Clean Air Act. The agency, in fact, is the largest emitter amongst eastern utilities of Nitrogen oxide, which causes smog. It is the third largest emitter of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, which has been identified as the leading cause of global warming. TVA’s nuclear program has been so plagues with safety and economic problems that consumer acutest Ralph Nada in 1998 declared: “The TVA… has the most expensive set of nuclear reactors, has a debt if $29 billion, has the poorest safety record with TVA reactors spending more time on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s watch list than any other utility.”
- Restructure TVA: Why the Tennessee Valley Authority Must Be Reformed by Richard Munson- September 17,2001
1. Which document is a secondary source that criticizes the environmental impact of the TVA?
2. According to Documents B and C, why were taxpayers concerns about the TVA?
3. In Document A, what message is President Roosevelt trying to convey to Congress?
4. Writing Task: Who was right about the impact of the Tennessee Valley Authority: President Roosevelt of his critics? Use your knowledge of the era and evidence from the document to support your opinion.