Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
This informative documentary on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) by Ross Spears chronicles its history, the multiple problems it has both caused and overcome, and the issues that still plagued it in 1984. The TVA is an independent agency of the executive branch of the U.S. government, created in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide electricity to one of the poorest regions of the country and to work on flood control and other projects. The first human cost of the TVA was the approximately 3,000 families forced out of the region when building began on what would become by the 1990s, 50 dams and multiple electrical power plants, including three nuclear plants (nuclear construction stopped in the '90s). Between the displacement of families and power struggles of the political and human variety, the TVA was born, and continued to exist constantly sullied by ethical, human, or environmental failings. In the 1960s and '70s environmental groups protested TVA pollution of the air, their strip mining, and their endangerment of the snail darter. (The snail darter fish was believed to have become extinct because of dam construction, but has since been found in a few Tennessee rivers.) Electrical costs skyrocketed, and construction on the massive Hartsville Nuclear Plant (after $2 billion had been spent) was aborted. Interviews with experts, pro and con from many fields provide the background and contemporary issues of the TVA. Some viewers may find the topic a bit dry, but anyone interested in the TVA or current issues such as pollution, energy development, or conservation would appreciate this documentary.