Raising the stakes in the discussion over state water policy, a Sacramento-area lawmaker introduced legislation Thursday that would block the construction of a Peripheral Canal unless it was expressly authorized by the Legislature.
The special-session bill by Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, also requires the Legislature's nonpartisan fiscal adviser, the Legislative Analyst, to put together an economic feasibility study of the potential project.
"I am very concerned about the direction in which the water discussions are heading. I am authoring the bill to make sure we get answers to very important questions," Huber said.
Cost estimates of $6 billion to $12 billion for the huge public works project have been provided by its supporters, but Huber said lawmakers need an independent, nonpartisan analysis to decide the issue.
No, the PPIC study does not even come close to cutting it as an adequate analysis to decide the issue. (Click on the peripheral canal tab to find some posts about that study.)
I have been consistently critical of the Department of Water Resources and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for not conducting a benefit-cost study of the peripheral canal, and seemingly having no interest or intention in conducting one. It is absolutely irresponsible to consider a project this expensive, and this controversial without a cost-benefit or feasibility analysis. Since DWR is not acting responsibly, it is correct for the legislature to require their authorization.
Although I am perceived by some as a peripheral canal opponent, my position is that I could be convinced to support it by an honest, well-executed cost-benefit study. The evidence I have seen to date makes me skeptical that a peripheral canal is worth the cost (which we still don't know except that it keeps going up), so I am inclined to oppose it until there is a sound argument for it. To date, canal advocates have been pushing deeply flawed research, and making distorted and dishonest economic arguments. If the economic case is so compelling, it should not be necessary to exaggerate it.