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Peripheral Tunnels Economic Impacts Inflated
Dan Bacher
Opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels slammed a controversial new economic analysis that purports to show a "net benefit" to California residents of $4.8 billion to $5.4 billion statewide from the project. The analysis claims the following "benefits" from the tunnel plan: • creation of 177,000 construction- and habitat restoration-related jobs in the Delta, resulting in $11 billion in additional employee compensation; • avoidance of water shortages that could cost over 1 million jobs in counties that depend upon Delta water; and • a net increase in statewide economic activity of $84 billion over 50 years, even after factoring in the effects of paying for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). • increased hiking, birding, boating, and other recreation in the Delta; • reduced emissions of greenhouse gases A statement from the Natural Resources Agency said, "All of these benefits are anticipated over the 50-year duration of the BDCP." “This report compares California’s economic outcomes under the BDCP to the conditions we can expect without BDCP,” gushed California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird. “The result is clear: Achieving the water supply reliability goal of the BDCP is crucial to California’s economic future. But what cannot be quantified in an economic analysis like this is equally important. By safeguarding and enhancing the fish and wildlife of the largest estuary on the West Coast, we act in the interest of all Californians to come.” Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, disagreed strongly with Laird's assessment. They joined with economic experts, environmental and consumer advocates Monday in criticizing the latest Economic Impact Report on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) as another “biased and piecemeal” analysis intended to promote the expensive and unnecessary project. “The Brown Administration is refusing to follow its own guidelines for determining whether a project’s benefits outweigh its costs,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “The latest report perpetuates the biased, fragmented analysis that is no substitute for the comprehensive benefits-cost analysis any other project would be required to perform. If this weren’t the governor’s pet project, the Peripheral Tunnels would be rejected by the Dept. of Water Resources, based on its own guidelines.” “The BDCP has refused repeated requests to conduct a benefit-cost analysis, and misled leaders and the public about their intention to conduct such analysis. By refusing benefit-cost analysis, the state is not following their own published guidelines and professional standards for economic analysis of large infrastructure projects,” said Dr. Jeffrey Michael, Director of Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, and co-author of the Delta Protection Commission’s Economic Sustainability Plan. Photo: Governor Jerry Brown is fast-tracking the construction of the peripheral tunnels, a $54.1 billion government boondoggle that will lead to the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.

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