What Future for the Lower Snake River Waterway?
In late 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers’ in Washington State released a document and started a critically important conversation about the future of the lower Snake River waterway – and its use as a barge transportation corridor. It’s a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) about sediment management for the waterway. Save Our wild Salmon, in concert with several others groups and the Nez Perce Tribe, has begun work to understand this Dredging DEIS, how the Army Corps would like to manage sediment, shipping and taxpayer dollars in the Lower Snake River for decades to come. The results of our collective research culminated in extensive comments that we submitted in late March before the comment deadline.
Though the Army Corps is not explicit, the future of the waterway as a transportation corridor is this document's real subject and issue. Read below to learn how this new regional discussion is taking shape. Local citizens are challenging the Army Corps' numbers and analyses. Understanding the actual value of this waterway in the 21st Century - its costs and benefits - and who pays and who benefits - and its risks, must be the foundation for any decisions about its future. Freight transport options in and out of the Lewiston/Clarkston area are essential for local farmers and other businesses, but shipping alternatives exist and these need to be part of this larger discussion.
Lewiston Tribune: Getting to the bottom of the issue
By ELAINE WILLIAMS
Monday, December 2, 2013 12:00 am
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking the public how it feels about ports in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley dredging their berths.
Port backers know where they stand on the issue - excess sediment needs to be removed as soon as possible, they say.
But before they get their way, the work will be subject to a public comment period that ends Dec. 18. (See related information, page 3A.) Waiting for the outcome of that process isn't the only hurdle they face.
The ports are responsible for the costs of their dredging, but always piggyback with dredging the corps does to maintain a shipping channel that's 14 feet deep and 250 feet wide between Portland and Lewiston.
"It's not financially feasible to do it any other way," said Port of Lewiston Manager David Doeringsfeld. "The mobilization cost for bringing dredging equipment up here would make it unfeasible for the small dredging volume we have."
Together the ports of Lewiston and Clarkston anticipate needing about 20,000 cubic yards of sediment removed. That compares with as many as 490,000 cubic yards being taking out of the shipping channel, mostly near the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers.
Lewiston Tribune: Dredging up an ageless debate
By ERIC BARKER
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The lower Snake River dams were primarily built to establish an alternative way to get inland goods to seaport markets. Now the future of the system could hinge on whether river navigation, and the heavy public investment required to keep it going, still makes dollars and cents.
At least that is what critics of the system would like. But thus far, a draft 20-year plan to manage sediment accumulation in the Snake and Clearwater rivers near Lewiston doesn't include a cost-benefit analysis. That has left both critics and supporters of the dams, and the river transportation they make possible, to crunch their own numbers.
Their arguments are based on how much benefit taxpayers receive from maintaining the system. But the real argument is over salmon and steelhead and the effects dams have on the prized sea-run fish.
Lewiston Tribune: Megaloads company gives up legal fight
By ERIC BARKER of the Tribune | Posted: Friday, October 25, 2013 12:00 am
The company blocked by court order from moving its giant water purification equipment through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest on its way to Canadian oil fields has abandoned its legal efforts to reverse the injunction.
Resources Conservation Company International, a subsidiary of the General Electric Co., filed documents Thursday signaling it would voluntarily drop its emergency motion to stay the injunction and its appeal.
According to a statement issued by GE, the company abandoned the appeal because of "ongoing uncertainty regarding timely delivery of properly permitted shipments. Because this technology is important to our customers and to improving the environmental impact of oil recovery operations, GE, instead, will focus on alternative shipment options."
Wall Street Journal: Road Too Far: GE Strains to Deliver Energy Colossus
By Kate Linebaugh, Wednesday, 16 October 2013
General Electric Co. has a colossal problem.
The industrial conglomerate makes a machine the size of a Space Shuttle orbiter that can extract crude oil from the depths of the Canadian oil sands. But first it has to get it there, and the only way is a road a federal judge says GE can't use.
Last week, GE lost an attempt to overrule a federal injunction preventing it from using a stretch of scenic Idaho highway to haul the giant piece of equipment, called a water evaporator. It has appealed the injunction. For now, though, the evaporator is stuck near the Port of Wilma in Clarkston, Wash., without a way to get to its destination hundreds of miles away in Alberta, Canada.
For GE, which prides itself on solving the world's biggest problems, the ruling has become a headache that could cost the company as much as $75 million in sales. And it is self inflicted.
Lewiston Tribune: Much more McGregor
October 6, 2013
ELAINE WILLIAMS, Lewiston Tribune
The six storage tanks that recently cropped up on the west end of the Port of Wilma will soon become part of the McGregor Company's fourth and largest storage and distribution center for agricultural nutrients.
The $10-million complex will also feature a new 2,100-foot-long rail spur, a 48,000-square-foot dry storage warehouse, and a four-bay blending and loading facility on 15 acres, said Fred Morscheck, general manager of marketing and logistics for the company based in Colfax. "We're doing this because it's important to our customers."
Three to five new employees will be added to McGregor's staff of 340 as the company's fertilizer storage capacity is doubled. Fertilizer is one of the biggest sectors for McGregor. The business also sells seed, pesticides and farm equipment and provides consulting to farmers.
Bye-bye to barging on the Snake, Clearwater?
By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune; Sunday, October 6, 2013
The Port of Whitman is examining how trains could replace barging if the Snake River were closed to commercial traffic.
The rail system is adequate to meet the needs of port tenants, but that may change if environmentalists succeed in blocking dredging of the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers, said Debbie Snell, properties and development manager for the port.
Dredging has already been delayed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to December 2014 at the earliest. River transportation advocates had hoped it would begin a year earlier.
"If that continues, it could get to the point where shipping is operating at a reduced capacity and then things are silting in," Snell said. "And of course the next step would be, 'Why don't we look at taking out some dams to flush the silt?' That could be a possible scenario."
- Sep 27, 2013 - Al Jazeera: Tribe fights to save historic river way
- Sep 27, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune editorial: Idaho lost more than a megaload court case
- Sep 27, 2013 - New York Times: Fight Over Energy Finda a New Front in a Corner of Idaho
- Sep 17, 2013 - Spokesman-Review Editorial: Thorough, fair ruling for U.S. 12 megaloads
- Sep 17, 2013 - Lewiston Tribune: Judge suspends megaloads
- Aug 19, 2013 - Seattle Times: Snake River barging drop: new factor in dams debate?
- Aug 16, 2013 - For Immediate Release: Corps Delay to Dredge Lower Snake Shows Need for More Study
- Aug 08, 2013 - Nez Perce Tribe Blockades Tar Sands
- Jul 26, 2013 - SOS Letter to Forest Service re: megaloads and salmon
- Jul 22, 2013 - For immediate release: Five myths about freight transportation on the Lower Snake River
- Jun 28, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Port of Lewiston meeting takes an existential turn
- Jun 07, 2013 - LMT Guest Opinion: If you do the math, dams don't add up
- May 05, 2013 - Spokesman Review guest opinion: It’s time to assess use of shrinking tax dollars on lower Snake River dams
- Apr 23, 2013 - AP: Dredge plan draws opposition
- Mar 07, 2013 - Old Arguments, New Realities
- Mar 07, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune Editorial: Don't take Linwood Laughy's word for it
- Jan 25, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Dredging costs rise to top of meeting
- Jan 24, 2013 - Rocky Barker Blog: Corps faces a fight over dredging behind Lower Snake dams.
- Jan 24, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune Editorial: Judging River Dredging Plan By the Numbers
- Jan 23, 2013 - The Sediment Statement and the Lower Snake River Waterway