I AM pleased to meet today with Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives from New England to discuss the report on the International Passamaquoddy Tidal Project submitted by Secretary Udall. Two years ago, I asked Secretary Udall, in cooperation with the Corps of Engineers, to restudy the proposed project, and the hydroelectric potential of the St. John River in Maine to determine whether recent developments in electric power technology had enhanced the economic feasibility of these projects.
This report has been presented to me this morning, and its major conclusions are most encouraging. The report reveals that this unique international power complex can provide American and Canadian markets with over a million kilowatts for the daily peak period in addition to 250,000 kilowatts of firm power. Electric power rates in the New England region are among the highest in the United States, and the survey indicates that a massive block of power can be produced and delivered at a cost of about 4 mills, approximately 25 percent below the current wholesale cost of power in the region.
I am pleased to note also that the development plan proposed would preserve the superb recreational areas of the Allagash River from flooding, and that an area suitable for a new national park would be preserved in this scenic part of Maine.
Any proposed resource development project must, of course, meet the national interest test. It must strengthen the economy of the whole country and enable America to compete better in the market places of the world. I understand that, measured by the customary feasibility standards, the Passamaquoddy-St. John project now meets the national interest test.
During the last three decades American taxpayers, through their Federal Government, have invested vast sums of money in developing the water resources of the great rivers of this country--the Columbia, the Missouri, the Colorado, the Tennessee, and others. These investments are producing daily dividends for our country, and it is reasonable to assume that a similar investment in conserving the resources of New England will also benefit the Nation. It is also reasonable to assume that a New England development will stimulate more diversified industry, increase commerce, and provide more jobs.
Our experience in other regions and river valleys shows that private utility customers as well as public agency power users benefit from lowering the basic cost of electric energy.
Harnessing the energy of the tides is an exciting technological undertaking. France and the Soviet Union are already doing pioneering work in this field. Each day, over a million kilowatts of power surge in and out of the Passamaquoddy Bay. Man needs only to exercise his engineering ingenuity to convert the ocean's surge into a great national asset. It is clear, however, that any development of this magnitude and new approach must also be considered in the context of the National Energy Study currently being undertaken by an interdepartmental committee under the chairmanship of the Director of the Office of Science and Technology, Dr. Wiesner.
These projects involve international waters, and equitable agreements must therefore be reached with the Canadian Government. Therefore, I am requesting the Secretary of State to initiate negotiations immediately with the Government of Canada looking toward a satisfactory arrangement for the sharing of the benefits of these two projects. Also, to insure full consideration of these proposals, I am directing that the Interior Department and the Corps of Engineers accelerate their work on the remaining studies of details.
The power-producing utilities of the United States are second to none in the world. The combined effort of science, private industry, and Government will surely keep this Nation in the forefront of technological progress in energy and electric power.
I think that this can be one of the most astonishing and beneficial joint enterprises that the people of the United States have ever undertaken and, therefore, I want to commend the Department of the Interior for its initiative in working on this matter the past 2 years, the congressional delegation from Maine which has been interested in this for many years, and the Members of Congress from New England who have supported this great effort. I think it will mean a good deal to New England and a good deal to the country.