Environmental series on Hetch Hetchy Valley wins Pulitzer Prize

The best opinion writing takes the unthinkable and makes it a live possibility. That’s what Sacramento Bee Associate Editor Tom Philp did with “Hetch Hetchy Reclaimed,” his editorial series on breaching the dam that has held Yosemite National Park’s famed valley under water since 1923. The Pulitzer board, which yesterday awarded Philp the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, hailed the “deeply researched editorials on reclaiming California’s flooded Hetch Hetchy Valley that stirred action.” Indeed, Philp’s pieces have contributed to growing momentum behind the idea of breaching the dam, which only a few years ago seemed like a tree-hugger pipe dream. There are new suggestions from water officials of ways to meet the Bay Area’s water needs without the dam, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) administration is studying the possibility of doing away with the dam. Between this and Wangari Maathai’s Nobel Peace Prize, the environment is finally getting some much-deserved limelight.