AWR Blog

Conservation Groups Release Government’s Censored Cost-Benefit Analysis of Bull Trout Critical Habitat

Michael Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (406) 459-5936
Steve Kelly, Friends of the Wild Swan, (406) 586-0180

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan demanded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service release the full cost-benefit analysis of designating critical habit for bull trout in the Pacific Northwest.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service mislead the American public when they released their censored version of this economic analysis last week,” stated Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. The cost-benefit analysis the government released did not include the 59 pages of benefits in the original cost-benefit analysis by Bioeconomics of Missoula, Montana.

In a letter sent to John Young, the Region 1 Bull Trout Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, Oregon, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan charged that the economic analysis was changed when the original cost-benefit analysis showed the positive economic benefits of protecting clean water. A copy of the censored cost-benefit analysis with the benefits included was attached to the letter.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident,” said Steve Kelly of Friends of the Wild Swan. “The Fish and Wildlife Service has demonstrated a pattern of stalling, delaying and driving up legal costs to thwart the honest efforts of determined citizen groups to recover bull trout and enforce compliance with the Endangered Species Act of 1973.”

“The government and the Bush Administration’s corporate supporters clearly did not like the independent economic results which showed the benefits of protecting clean water for bull trout far outweighed the costs so they eliminated the benefits when they released the study to the public,” Garrity charged.

“Federal Agencies are required by law to provide an assessment of cost and benefits of proposed regulatory actions. The law does not allow the government to ignore the benefits if they don’­t get the result they want. A cost benefit analysis means what it says, you have to look at both the costs and the benefits,” Garrity said.

Paragraph 141 of the cost-benefit analysis released to the public states that the extractive industries were given a chance to comment on the full version of the cost-benefit analysis. Comments were solicited from the mining and logging associations such as American Forestry and Paper Association and the National Mining Association, but not from municipal water departments, conservation groups or the general public.

Garrity noted, “The Fish and Wildlife Service clearly did what President Bush’­s campaign donors wanted. They let corporations dictate the results of an economic study and cover up the benefits of cleaning up our water. The full cost-benefit analysis showing the benefits of protecting drinking water for millions of Americans needs to be released as the law requires. The American public, not just Bush’­s corporate friends, deserves to see the complete economic results.”


Michael Garrity is Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. He taught environmental and natural resource economics at the University of Utah from 1992-1998.

Steve Kelly is a director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies (AWR) formed to meet the challenge of saving the Northern Rockies Bioregion from habitat destruction. We are a grassroots environmental group composed of thousands of individuals, business owners, and organizations that take a bioregional approach to protect and restore this great region. A membership-based nonprofit organization, headquartered in Missoula, Montana, our board and advisors include some of the nation’s top scientists and conservationists.

Friends of the Wild Swan is a grassroots environmental group based in Swan Lake, Montana.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan earlier went to court to force the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for bull trout.

The Forgotten Forest Product: Water. Former National Forest Chief Mike Dombeck’­s OPED in the New York Times,



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