Clayton Niles Interview -- Central Arizona Project

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PS = Pam Stevenson - Agave Productions

CN = Clayton Niles

PS (Interviewer): Tell me a little about the Central Arizona Project. What stage was it at in 1964 and '65 I guess was when you actually came in the office?

CN (C. Niles): Well, of course it was a, a bill in Congress that, uh, to create the Central Arizona Project. Uh, California was opposing it. Uh, the Interstate Stream Commission, uh, was the agency, state agency that had responsibility for progressing our interests in the Central Arizona Project. And I represented the governor's office on that commission and was influential in seeing that, that agency continued without any significant changes in people and continued with the same chairman who happened to be a Republican.

Uh, the power authority, uh, was also very much involved because they were espousing the creation of the Marble Canyon Dam- no, the Bridge Canyon Dam as a way to create power and finance the Central Arizona Project independent of federal sponsorship. Their theory was that we were going to- we weren't going to get California to approve, uh, to support our efforts for the Central Arizona Project. And, and of course, they were pretty much right about that. And they, uh, John Smith was the chairman of the Arizona Power Authority at that time and, uh, I spent a lot of time with John and with that agency exploring the Bridge Canyon Dam Project as an alternative to federal legislation. Uh, it, there was a lot of controversy about that at the time. But those were the two agencies that were really playing a role in the Central Arizona Project.

PS (Interviewer): I heard about a trip that Sam took back to Washington to testify before Congress? Were you involved with that?

CN (C. Niles): I was with him. I wasn't involved in the- I was with him because we met with the President. And it was the first time that I had, uh, been in the Oval Office. And Carl Hayden and Sam had this appointment to see the President. And I went with Carl Hayden and Carl, uh, arranged for me to be included in this, in this meeting. And I'll never forget it. It was one of the most interesting experiences that I've ever had because you had Carl Hayden, who was trying to convince the President that California was now supporting the legislation and that all he needed was the President's support and we'd have it. And the President knew darn well that California wasn't supporting the re-(laughing), the legislation and he had these two guys who had been great friends in the, in the Senate arguing about (voice sounds muffled here) whether or not California supported the legislation. And it was -

PS (Interviewer): What president was it?

CN (C. Niles): Lyndon Johnson. And it was a fascinating experience to see these guys arguing back and forth because, you know, Carl Hayden was now in his 80s I guess. I, I don't remember his exact age. But it was a fascinating experience.

Transcript Excerpt Courtesy of Agave Productions