Those who benefit most from government subsidies for commercial navigation on the lower Snake River—the ports, industry associations and their members, and the US Army Corps of Engineers— have plied the public for years with untrue claims that barging is more economical, more fuel efficient, and less polluting than shipping freight by truck or rail. Barging supporters also make exaggerated claims that barging on the lower Snake River preserves highways and plays a critical role in the regional economy. The barging boosters make these claims while ignoring clear evidence to the contrary. In doing so, they are perpetuating myths—otherwise known as cookin’ the books and blowin’ smoke—and taxpayers are footing the bill.
The 5 myths:
• Barge transport is the most fuel-efficient means of transporting cargo.
• Barging keeps trucks off our highways saving millions of dollars each year.
• Barge transport on the lower Snake is friendly to the environment.
• Barging is the cheapest way to move freight.
• Barging on the lower Snake is a vital part of the regional economy.
The factual information on the following 5 pages has been gleaned from a range of research studies and professional literature. A final page summarizes conclusions drawn from this analysis. Below is the entire analysis.
This document was prepared by Linwood Laughy, a former educator, author, outfitter and long-time resident of the Clearwater Valley in north-central Idaho. He is a Harvard-educated citizen activist and more recently the co-founder, with his wife Borg Hendrickson, of FightingGoliath.org, an extended network of individuals and organizations that collectively played a significant role in keeping Highway 12 and the Lochsa/Clearwater Wild and Scenic River Corridor from becoming industrialized as a transportation route for giant mining equipment en route to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.