Shipping Wheat By Bargeby Janice Ingram
Spokesman-Review, November 10, 2016
In an Idaho Statesman oped, Joe Anderson of Genesee writes he "prefers" shipping his wheat by barge. Does he understand who pays most of the costs? Taxpayers paid the Army Corps’ $17 million in sediment management planning costs and $10+ million for the latest dredging through the Snake/Clearwater confluence to the Port of Lewiston. Taxpayers pay $8 million to $13 million each year to operate the locks on the Snake River.
Taxpayers paid for major lock repairs at multiple dams in 2010-2011. Taxpayers paid for the extensive repairs to Little Goose lock in 2014. Taxpayers will pay for major lock repairs on 8 dams during the 15-week river closure beginning December 2016.
Pacific Northwest electrical ratepayers also subsidize your grain shipments. Fish mitigation costs run over $700 million annually. Federal taxpayers pay another $80 million to $100 million each year as treasury credits against Bonneville Power’s debt for the water the Corps "spills" to support juvenile fish passage.
Grain is the only commodity still shipped on the lower Snake River reservoirs. If farmers who still barge wheat had to pay even a third of true costs, those shipments would soon disappear.
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