Excerpts from the Press Conference
Q. Mr. President, there are reports out this afternoon that the Government is taking some steps toward inflation of the dollar. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
THE PRESIDENT: It is a typical July story.
Q. Off the record, Mr. President, can you fill us in on what the situation is on that? Personally I am as ignorant as a nincompoop on it all, and if I could get a little background or of[ the record . . .
THE PRESIDENT: On what?
Q. On inflation and deflation of the dollar and so forth. (Laughter)
Q. Is there anything I can get? (Laughter)
THE PRESIDENT: Stevie (Francis Stephenson, a reporter), if you would offer me a hundred dollars to write a story I couldn't write it myself. "There just ain't no news."
Q. I could not offer it. (Laughter)
Q. I see the Secretary of the Interior is here. Is there anything you can give us about public works programs, oil, the Mississippi Valley and the channel?
THE PRESIDENT; Yes, I think we can do that. We studied this morning and approved the Grand Coulee project in the Columbia River. The amount involved is sixty-three million dollars. That is the initial amount. I think you had better check on these figures, because they are just purely from memory. The original, complete project called for a very large dam, I think about three hundred feet high.
Q. Three hundred and seventy feet high, I think.
THE PRESIDENT: It was a dam that would have developed, as I remember it, over a million horsepower. At this time, however, it is felt that there isn't a present, ready market for that amount of power, and therefore the foundations for the full-sized dam will be put in, but the dam will be only built to a height of about a hundred and thirty feet. Is that correct, Harold?
SECRETARY ICKES: I don't think it is that high.
Q. A hundred and forty feet, I think.
THE PRESIDENT: A hundred and thirty or a hundred and forty feet. Initially it should develop four hundred and fifty or five hundred thousand horsepower.
SECRETARY ICKES: It will be the cheapest power in the country. . . .
Q. Mr. President, will you appoint a District Commissioner?
THE PRESIDENT: There is one other project which I think will be approved next Monday or Tuesday. That is the Casper-Alcova project in Wyoming. That is a very large project which is primarily for flood control. It is the first large one on the upper waters of the Missouri River. Actually, it is not on the Missouri itself, but is on the South Platte. Do you remember what the total of that is, approximately?
SECRETARY ICKES: Twenty-one million dollars.
Q. Mr. President, pending ratification of the St. Lawrence Treaty, is there anything you can do on that?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I would rather you did not have this coming. out from here. You can say that the question has been broached and it seems to be Administration policy. Several Senators, including Senator Vandenberg and some others, have asked me to set aside out of this public works money a hundred and fifty million dollars for the American share of the building of the International Rapids Section of the St. Lawrence next year, pending ratification of the Treaty; but I frankly don't think that was within the intent of the Congress in appropriating the money. They wanted the money to apply to projects which could be immediately started; and I think it would be flying in the face of Congressional intent if I were to withhold that money until next year in the hope that the Treaty would go through, so I don't think I can do it.
In regard to these projects, I think it is well at this time to make one thing clear. The Wyoming project, for example, has as its primary purpose the control of flood waters on the upper tributaries of the Missouri River. With that control there will be two other results: one, power; and the other, sufficient water to use for reclamation purposes. Now, the very minute you start to increase the irrigation area in the United States, you run into the problem of additional crop production. At the present time we are all against additional crop production.
What are you going to do about it? It will be good crop land. It will be irrigated land and therefore the Administration, in order to get this good crop land which will be a by-product of flood prevention, has decided that it will take out of production an equivalent acreage in sections of the country where such acreage is now being farmed on a submarginal basis. Submarginal land, in other words, is inferior land which ought not to be farmed but still is being farmed. Now, that does not mean taking out acre for acre, because this reclamation land which will result from the flood control and this Wyoming project will probably produce three or four times as much in the way of crops as the submarginal land produces. Therefore it may, in all probability, be necessary to withdraw from cultivation three or four acres of submarginal land for every acre of new reclamation land that is being put into use. Therefore, we shall undertake to acquire and take out of cultivation an acreage of submarginal land whose production is the equivalent of the new acreage of reclamation land which is put into use, so that the total production of crops will not be increased. Of course, at the same time we are taking off the inferior soil, off that submarginal land, families that today cannot make a living working that submarginal land.
Q. Will the submarginal land be used for forest preserves?
THE PRESIDENT: They will probably go back into the public domain; and if there are lands which can be used for forestry purposes we will put them into forestry. . . .
Q. Mr. President, is there anything to these reports from Paris that Baruch talked to Litvinov and discussed with him the recognition of Russia?
THE PRESIDENT: That is another July hot-weather story.
Q. How about Secretary Hull and Moley to go to Treasury?
THE PRESIDENT: That is a third July story; in fact that is a July and August story.
Q. What about the story that Governor Lehman will become Secretary of the Treasury?
THE PRESIDENT: That is a July and August story.
Q. Who will be Secretary of the Treasury?
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Woodin (the then Secretary of the Treasury). . . .
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208811