In Case You Missed It: Articles of Interest on Gov. Brown’s Tunnels

Brian Smith, 415-320-9384,
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209-479-2053,

In Case You Missed It…

Revised Delta Tunnels EIR Further Worsens The Project’s Already Lousy Economics

“In 2012, I estimated the net benefits of the Tunnels’ as -$6 billion. In 2013, BDCP consultants estimated +$5 billion. Virtually all of the $11 billion difference was driven by differing water yield estimates that were entirely due to the regulatory assurance (50-year permit) assumption. After these changes, I think my -$6 billion from 2012 look overly generous, and something like -$8 billion in net benefits seems more likely.
“The project just keeps getting worse for the water exporters. If the water agencies’ leaders were really looking out for their ratepayers and the best interests of the state, they would drop it. But they won’t, although some are starting to waver in their support.”

– Jeffrey Michael, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Business and Policy Research and Associate Professor, Eberhardt School of Business, UOP

The Cheapest Way to Beat the Drought? Stop Farming Lousy Land
Mineral buildup in the western San Joaquin Valley is killing crops and birds, leading many to say it shouldn’t be farmland at all.

“According to a new report from the economic research firm EcoNorthwest, California could save 455,000 acre-feet of water annually—more than three-quarters of what Los Angeles uses in a year—if the state and federal government were to buy out farmers tilling some 343,000 acres of the “drainage impaired lands” that make up nearly half the San Luis. When used to irrigate farms on poor-draining land that contains high levels of salt, selenium, and boron, that water can poison crops and wildlife alike.
“…retiring the 300,000 acres—which would cost between $740 million and $793 million—would be 25 times less expensive than Gov. Jerry Brown’s $15.5 billion plan to build water tunnels through the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta.”

DELTA TUNNELS – Public Demands More Time for Review

“The short public comment period looks like a deliberate effort to make it virtually impossible for members of the public to be able to comprehend and respond with meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQP document. The BDCP agencies took almost one year to prepare the new documents and there is no public need for haste in providing too short a comment period.
“The groups note that despite more than 18,000 public comments on the original draft EIR/EIS, and despite repeated requests since December 2013, officials have refused to post any of the detailed comments by organizations or public agencies on the BDCP website.
“This deliberate concealment of independent and contrary views and information from the public also now makes it more difficult for the public to prepare meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQA documents…. Moreover, comments such as those from the EPA and Army Corps constitute critical new information that would be the foundation for many informed comments at this time.”

10 Questions Delta Tunnels Boosters Don’t Want Asked

1. How will construction of the tunnels over a fourteen-year period help with drought?
2. Will the state conduct a full cost-benefit analysis of the project that includes the value of freshwater to the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary?…

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