Tunnel: thanks for the details, it’s still insane

There are monumental objections to the Delta tunnel plan unveiled by state officials yesterday.

They don’t know if the steps they propose to take to save the Delta from death will work — and, y’know, they really ought to know that before $18 billion is spent on the project. 

They don’t know, therefore, whether the project will stabilize water supplies. If the Delta’s decline continues, as I expect it will, water exports will have to be cut back anyway.

But most fundamentally, the thing doesn’t make financial sense. This is clear just by adding up the value of what’s out in the Delta. 

» The (at least partial) water supply for two-thirds of the state; 

» Twenty percent of the state’s natural gas-powered plants, making 10 percent of the state’s energy in the state’s largest natural gas production fields.

» The state’s largest natural gas storage facility (under McDonald Island).

» Interregional power transmission lines that carry 10 percent of the state’s summer electric load.

» Highways 4, 12, 160.

» Farms producing $700 million to $800 million in crops annually.

» Recreation generating $250 million a year.

» Local water supplies for Stockton, Antioch and Contra Costa.

» The Port of Stockton and its shipping channel.

» Railroad tracks, fuel pipelines and miscellaneous infrastructure.

» Vast habitat.

When the cost of losing these things to a major earthquake is totalled up - UOP’s business Forecasting Center center used the state’s own figures – loss of state water supply amounts to only 20 percent of the overall loss.

Yet water contractors aim to spend a staggering $14 billion, probably more, to build a canal that protects only the water. And the state, meaning taxpayers, will chip in $4 billion more.

“The point is that is fiscally insane,” Jeff Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center, said in the 2012 column from which I cut-and-pasted all the above factoids.

The insanity is more than fiscal. It’s systemic to a state government driven by politics and special interests and not science and a rational relationship with nature. 




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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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