Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Project Director, Save Our wild Salmon, 509-863-5696
Ernie Niemi, independent economist, Natural Resource Economics, 541-937-3644
Official comments submitted to the United States Army Corps of Engineers District Office in Walla Walla today demonstrate that maintenance and operations costs for the lower Snake River transportation corridor greatly exceed its economic benefits. With a growing project backlog and deepening federal deficits, these new analyses raise serious questions about the lower Snake waterway’s economic viability, and its burden to local communities and American taxpayers.
Last December, the Army Corps released a 1,500-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement proposing to dredge hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sediment in Lower Granite reservoir on the Snake River along the Idaho/Washington border. The plan quickly came under fire from local citizens who question the waterway’s underlying economics. The Corps’ $16 million document proposes to spend $39 million or more over the next 10 years.
“Waterway transportation on the lower Snake cannot be justified today”, said Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Project Director of Save Our wild Salmon. “Costs are rising, use is dropping, and taxpayers won’t continue to foot this bill. Businesses need a reliable, affordable transportation system, and we need to focus our limited resources on fiscally responsible transportation options that meet community needs and better protect endangered salmon.”
In an independent evaluation of the plan, Natural Resource Economics found that the Army Corps completely failed to substantiate its proposed expenditures and actions, or to provide a cost-benefit analysis. Rather, the available information shows that the plan “would have a negative net effect on national economic development, i.e., its costs would exceed its benefits.”
Save Our wild Salmon supports a reliable, affordable transportation network for farmers and other businesses in eastern Washington and northern Idaho based on rails and roads. “We’ll keep working with farmers and others in eastern Washington to find shared solutions that strengthen our economy, meet the needs of communities and restore endangered salmon and steelhead,” said Mace. “By hiding the economic and fiscal facts, the Army Corps is doing a disservice to the people and the economy of Lewiston/Clarkston and eastern Washington.”