CHSRA CEO Roelof van Ark Resigns

Jan 12th, 2012 | Posted by

At today’s board meeting in Los Angeles California High Speed Rail CEO Roelof van Ark announced his resignation:

Roelof van Ark, chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, announced this afternoon that he is quitting, the latest setback for the state’s beleaguered campaign to build a nearly $100 billion rail network in California.

His resignation, announced at a board meeting in Los Angeles and effective in two months, comes at a critical point for the project, with rail officials bidding for Legislative approval to start construction in the Central Valley this fall….

Van Ark cited personal reasons for his resignation.

“I need to focus myself more on my family, and maybe some other interests,” he told board members. He said he may continue on the project as a consultant.

Van Ark used his resignation announcement to reiterate his support of the rail authority’s decision to start construction in the Central Valley, controversial because it is far from California’s population centers. The administration signaled no change of course.

Is this really a setback? I’m not entirely sure. Van Ark was, from all I have seen and heard, a good leader for the project. It’s definitely a loss and not something I would prefer to see. It will also produce some challenges as a transition unfolds. But that’s not the same thing as a “setback.”

What this does indicate is that the momentum to combine the Authority and Caltrans under a Transportation Agency may be stronger than we realize, and Van Ark may have felt his role in such an agency would be smaller. No matter the actual reason, if the Authority is indeed combined, then they will actually get access to a lot more expertise than they currently have. So while the loss of van Ark is going to cause problems, there is a path forward to provide insight and expertise to the Authority.

Van Ark’s departure comes alongside two other staff departures. Deputy Director Dan Leavitt is leaving the Authority, as is Rachel Wall, the Authority’s press secretary.

Additionally, changes are underway at the CHSRA board:

Minutes after van Ark’s announcement, Tom Umberg announced that he is stepping down as chairman of the rail board, though he will remain a member of the board. Umberg is to be replaced next month by Dan Richard, an adviser Gov. Jerry Brown appointed to the board last year.

The chairmanship rotates regularly so I don’t see this as a negative in any way. In fact, if anything it may strengthen Governor Brown’s hold on the board.

Many media outlets will spin this as a negative for the project, but that’s a reflection of their growing levels of pessimism. Objectively there’s just no way to know what the impact will be since we haven’t seen yet where the project goes from here. New blood isn’t a bad thing – it’s been an intensive couple of years for the project and that has probably taken its toll on staff. There’s something to be said for brining in fresh people who also have a background in HSR projects, rail planning, or transportation planning more generally. That’s no slight against current or former staff, to be clear. Van Ark, Leavitt, and Wall have done excellent work.

Responses to van Ark’s resignation have started coming in. First up is Tom Umberg:

“With admiration, I would like to thank Mr. van Ark for his service to California and the high-speed rail project. The announcement of his resignation will resonate throughout the State. His energy, passion and dedication to this critically important project are a testament to his character and his professionalism. We are extremely lucky to have his continued counsel and advice as we move to implement high-speed rail in California. I remain grateful for his professionalism and friendship.”

Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani also offered her thoughts:

“I am grateful to Mr. Van Ark and Chair Umberg for their tireless efforts and tenacity during the most critical early stages of taking High Speed Rail from a vision, to reality, bringing us “high-speed jobs” with the start of construction in September 2012.

“We have always known there would be challenging circumstances building the nation’s first high-speed Rail system, particularly when it requires being sensitive and responsive to diverse communities, with varying needs along the entire 800 mile stretch of the project all at once. Mr. Van Ark and Mr. Umberg have worked with stakeholders to address everything from whether “wind speed” from the train will affect bee pollination in agricultural areas, the importance of respecting sacred sites and Native American burial grounds near the Grapevine, the value we place on involving small emerging business enterprises during the engineering and construction contracting process, building the first public private partnership of this scope in California, and navigating the political turbulence associated with building the nation’s first High –Speed Rail system. I have deep respect and owe my deepest gratitude to both Mr. Van Ark and Mr. Umberg.”

Governor Brown has been a vocal supporter of the project, and last year and appointed two advisers, Dan Richard and Mike Rossi, to the rail board. Board Member Richard will serve as the new Chair of the Authority Board.

“Today represents a turning point for the Governor to put his stamp on the project. I am pleased that his long-trusted Advisor, Dan Richard, has been chosen to succeed Chair Umberg, and I am confident that Governor Brown will put his full resources behind the success of High Speed Rail. I remain committed to working with Governor Brown, and Chair Richard to move this project forward and put California’s economy on a fast-track to recovery with “high speed jobs.”

  1. morris brown
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 17:33
    #1

    Robert:

    You write:

    Is this really a setback? I’m not entirely sure. Van Ark was, from all I have seen and heard, a good leader for the project. It’s definitely a loss and not something I would prefer to see. It will also produce some challenges as a transition unfolds. But that’s not the same thing as a “setback.”

    Come on. This is assuredly a setback, a killer punch, for the proposal to build the ICS in the Central Valley.

    As you pointed out in Finestein’s letter, bullet point 5, she is saying the money has to go elsewhere.

    What the next proposal will be, I don’t know, but it surely won’t be to continue to spend all of the funds in the CV.

    Jack Reply:

    With the SJ-SF EIR on hold, the ANA-LA, and LA-BAKO sections not even close to being shovel ready, how in the holy blue hells are they going to move funding and stay within the ARRA deadline requirements.

    Or is that your plan, get them to move funding which will delay the project, therefore fore fitting funding. You sly old man you….

    CV represents the most construction for the least expense. The money is going to be spent here first, and then I will ride this train and wave to you as we blast by.

    joe Reply:

    Maybe this political pressure will result in action – they’ll waive the EIR requirements and direct the money to the urban areas and start building in time.

    And look how easy it is to get Menlo Park bought off. A few million for “traffic mitigation” and they approved Stanford’s 5 Billion hospital expansion. And Facebook is making a mockery of the town.

    http://www.nbcbayarea.com/blogs/press-here/Facebook-Bribes-Menlo-Park-With-Jobs-Charity-and-Elves-137161863.html
    Facebook Bribes Menlo Park With Jobs, Computers and Elves
    “I’m here tonight at the Facebook lovefest to say how excited we are about having Facebook in our community,” Sharon Williams, executive director of the nonprofit JobTrain, told the San Jose Mercury News. Facebook not only made a pledge of cash for its job training programs, but also sent employees dressed as elves to JobTrain’s winter party for children.

    So why is Facebook working so hard? Because the tech company wants to expand its current 2,000-employee headquarters at the former Sun Microsystems campus to 6,600 workers by 2015. It also has plans to add another 2,800 staff members by 2017 at an adjacent West Campus. Right now, though, the City of Menlo Park has a 3,600-employee cap to prevent traffic congestion and other perceived problems.

    Nathanael Reply:

    When is Feinstein up for election? She’s alienated all the liberals in the Democratic Party. If she doesn’t retire she may get kicked out.

    Ignore her mouthings.

  2. paul dyson
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 18:59
    #2

    We hope we don’t have to fight L.A. Anaheim all over again. Let’s head north from L.A. as we always should have.

    Jack Reply:

    LA-Bako is the least furthest along as far as EIR in Phase 1 . (If I am reading this correctly). No way can we start construction before the deadline.

    blankslate Reply:

    Does anyone else find it absurd that there are *any* sections that “don’t have enough planning” (as people keep saying about LA-Bakersfield and other actually useful sections)? Haven’t we been talking about high speed rail in this state for 30 years?

    StevieB Reply:

    How long should it take to complete current environmental reports and plans ready to begin construction on the largest transportation project in the nation?

    Nathanael Reply:

    The delays on LA-Bakersfield are because they keep looking at so many options. Alternatives Analyses are great, but they take time.

    Joey Reply:

    The current state of each EIR is a result of the fact that the Authority made a conscious choice to focus on some EIRs over others.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It sure looks to me that it is LA’s demands that are the crux of the problem. So buy Villaraigossa off with part of the $6bil for projects in the Basin, grease the Chandlers with a payoff as well and move ahead with Tejon. You’ll still be better off.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    L.A.’s demands? As opposed to Fresno’s, San Jose’s, San Francisco….

    Peter Reply:

    More like Bakersfield’s demands. That’s the only major city in Phase 1 turning into a project opponent (“We love the idea in abstract, but don’t like that it affects us in practice”).

    synonymouse Reply:

    LA is the hidden hand behind the Detour.

    Nathanael Reply:

    LA isn’t stupid, and will not trade off HSR for local rail. Anyway, they got their local rail funding ALREADY.

    Howard Reply:

    The problem with doing LA Palmdale first is that it costs to much. It would cost $15M and we only have $6M. The good part is that it has dual use for both CHSR and Desert Xpress.

    paul dyson Reply:

    LA Bako via Palmdale is $15 B. We should be able to get to Palmdale with the money we have and change.

    Donk Reply:

    Actually it is $15B for Bako to Sylmar, not to LA. So are you proposing to start in LA and build north or start in Sylmar and build north?

    paul dyson Reply:

    Whichever is ready to go first. L.A. to Sylmar is not in too bad shape for now. Just starting on the last grade sep in Burbank.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Sylmar north would be akin to many of the early railroads’ plans.

    morris brown Reply:

    @paul dyson

    Just what makes you think the Authority has $15 billion? They don’t. The Authority has around $6 billion to spend.

    There would be remaining in possible Prop 1A bond funds around $6 billion more, but any more from Prop 1A must be matched with funds from another source — Federal, or private.

    On deadlines, the only hard deadline is that all Federal funds from ARRA must be spent by 2017. the Sept 2012 deadline is not a hard deadline and in fact the Authority’s own timeline shows that construction wouldn’t start until early 2013 at best.

    see this from Rachael Wall the Authority’s spokesperson (whose is about to leave)

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/01/12/california-high-speed-rail-derails-ceo-q


    Wall explains that van Ark will stick around until March and board chairman Umberg will leave as soon as a replacement can be found.

    The CHSRA is under tremendous pressure to begin work on the Obama Administration’s chosen first leg of the project, a line connecting Merced and Bakersfield. The September deadline for groundbreaking and the odd location were needed to qualify the project for ARRA stimulus funds. Wall says the federal requirement is for the ARRA funds to be spent by 2017, and the September 2012 target was selected by working back from that. Should the project not meet that deadline, she says, the federal funding would not necessarily be jeopardized because the Golden State’s contract with the federal government only “memorializes the schedule.”

    The project remains on schedule, Wall says: “We anticipate groundbreaking by fall of this year. The next stage is to outline the capital-outlay budget.”

    I hope the provides clarity on funding and deadlines.

    paul dyson Reply:

    Didn’t say they had $15B. Didn’t quote a number, “the money we have” is what I wrote, which agreed is about $6B. Should get us north to Palmdale. Do calm down.

    jim Reply:

    No. LA-Palmdale is somewhere between $11.6B and $13.1B according to the 2012 Business Plan.

    Even Bakersfield-Palmdale is north of $7B.

    Even if the Federal money is fully matched at 50% by Prop 1A money, the Authority can’t reach those numbers. Perhaps by dipping into the Caltrans pot, Bakersfield-Palmdale might be doable.

    There are no actual intercity options available. If there’s a reallocation, it has to be to commuter rail.

    blankslate Reply:

    I think the 11.6-13.1 number you are quoting is for LA-Palmdale-Bakersfield. I believe Paul Dyson is proposing LA-Palmdale only.

    jim Reply:

    No. They’re taken from the table on page 2 of Cost Changes from 2009 Report to
    2012 Business Plan Capital Cost Estimates
    which accompanied the Business Plan.

    jim Reply:

    LA-Bakersfield is $19.1B to $20.8B.

    paul dyson Reply:

    L.A. Palmdale at lower cost for faster diesels. It’s all we’ll be running for 20 years anyway, may as well go somewhere useful. Straighten out the canyon a bit, double track.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You can’t straighten it out much without building entirely new track, with viaducts and tunnels. It’s not the kind of ROW that’s amenable to high engineering standards at low cost.

    Joey Reply:

    What Alon said. Take a look at the route on Google Maps some time (or better yet, Earth, because you can see the terrain). Try measuring a couple of the curve radii.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Shhh! Let the man dream…

    jim Reply:

    Nor is there much room to double track. There are sections where the entire canyon floor is taken up with the existing single track railroad and SR14.

    jim Reply:

    La-Palmdale-Bakersfield on the current Business Plan is $20B. Roughly speaking $4.5B LA-Sylmar, $8B Sylmar-Palmdale, $7.5B Palmdale-Bakersfield.

    If you have $6B, you can build LA-Sylmar (remembering that the $4.5B doesn’t actually include a station at LAUS: that was costed under LA-Anaheim) and have maybe enough left over to connect the TBT to 4th and King at the other end.

    The problem with that is that an LAUS-Burbank-Sylmar HSR route is absolutely useless. The Metrolink route between LA and Sylmar provides better commuter connectivity. LA-Sylmar HSR doesn’t even have the residual usefulness to Amtrak that Bakersfield-Merced without electrification does.

    Joey Reply:

    At the distances we’re looking at for the ICS, it makes much more sense to consider a regional rather than intercity market. LA-Sylmar would probably carry an order of magnitude more passengers than Fresno-Bakersfield, regardless of what type of passengers they are.

    Donk Reply:

    LAUS to Sylmar on Metrolink is currently 30 minutes, including 3 intermediate stops. Even if you get this down to 20 minutes, I am not sure if there would be that much of an increase from the current ridership. You would probably get more ridership by increasing the frequency instead.

    jim Reply:

    LA-Sylmar unsubsidized HSR competing with subsidized Metrolink would carry no passengers, or at least so few it would go broke. There is no reason to run HSR between LA and Sylmar. There would be little reason to do so if there weren’t commuter rail already in place. With competing commuter rail in place it’s a short route to bankruptcy.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    DesertXPress is nothing more than vaporware, it’s never going to actually be built.

    Donk Reply:

    Shhhh! Lets all pretend it will get built so that we get Harry Reid’s support for LA-Palmdale.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s funny. They used to say Joe Biden was the third Senator from Pennsylvania. Reid is like the third Senator from California.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Depends on the political winds in Nevada, surely? Right now, it will “never be built”, but if the State of Nevada decides to pay for it, it will get built quite suddenly.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    With a dome car Paul??? over the SP…its not 1957.. you and TRAC and this mindset that will never get ridership outside of old railfans and visitors

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Sorry Paul, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    If Feinstein gets her way there’s going to be a slugfest between Northern and Southern California for “passenger rail” upgrades using the Prop 1A money. As I told Paulus Magnus yesterday the current EIR areas won’t allow improvements that do much operationally so the money’s going to get plowed in TransBay Terminal, Diridon Intergalatic, LA Union Station, and Pringle Intergalatic — I mean ARTIC….

    paul dyson Reply:

    All too likely to be true. The new California mission trail, empty “cathedrals” in memory of HSR!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Cathedrals in memory of the twin saints Incompatible Platform Height and Airline-style “Security” and Ticketing. Truly monuments to the wisdom of our age.

    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

    Rick Rong Reply:

    I met a traveler from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    by Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    That’s only the case Paul if all twenty-four stops get some catacomb like station. There are, after all 21 missions, not four.

    Of course I think the allusion to the El Camino Real is a great one for the state, maybe even putting mustard seed flowers as brand design.

    paul dyson Reply:

    There’ll be no more stops because no line, only 4 empty stations.

  3. Emma
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 19:15
    #3

    There is still one more thing I don’t understand. How come the highways seem to enjoy and endless supply of money no matter how ridiculously expensive an expansion ends up costing the taxpayer, but a rational cost-saving plan such as California High Speed Rail is not allowed to ask for at least some co-funding from cities, state and D.C.?

    Here we are building new Express lanes that nobody is using for billions of dollars, but we find ourselves struggling to upgrade existing rail corridors, expanding light rail or anything that sounds slightly of European origin. I mean couldn’t we at least dedicate those express lanes for Express buses? Is that too much to ask for?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Because “everybody drives” and therefore highways are a Public Good.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    No it’s that “everybody that is white drives”….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Real Americans ™ drive everywhere. You don’t have to be white to be a Real American ™, though being a bitter angry rich old white guy helps.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Envy is an ugly thing adirondacker.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m not envious of bitter angry rich old white guys. YMMV.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Wow, that’s psychological projection at work. I’m not envious of bitter angry rich old white guys either.

    I pity them.

    Jonathan Reply:

    The ‘everybody drives” was a direct quote from one of the anti-rail pieces which someone here cited in the last three weeks. I forget which one.

    Point taken, though. Though I’d rephrase it as “Everybody drives — at least everyone who counts”. Which excludes white people who don’t drive, too.

    Brsk Reply:

    That is a rhetorical question right?
    You’re aren’t that naive are you?

    Big Oil owns most politicians in America, the road builders and sellers clean up most of the rest.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just as Big LA owns the CHSRA.

    Emma Reply:

    Of course it’s rhetorical. It is the car, big oil industry fighting any rail projects with everything they have because they argued that manufacturing jobs would go. Now they got their way and manufacturing jobs are still going.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Your life would come to a screatching halt without roads. Without HSR it’ll just take you longer to get from LA to SF, but you’d still get there.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    No your slurb life would…America did just fine before there were as many cars as people…get out and walk.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Get out and walk???

    Says the guy that wants to spend billions on HSR.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    roads != expensive highway/freeway expansions

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    CAHSR still = more roads and runways because it doesn’t solve intra-regional traffic and it only impacts a small percentage of peak hour flights.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many people fly from SFO to OAK?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    None. But HSR doesn’t run that way either. Thanks for proving my point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many people drive to Hawaii?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I can’t resist the temptation. . .

    A man, a beach-bum really, was on the beach, looking for things to salvage and sell. Perhaps it was not right to call him a “bum,” for he actually did work honestly, and those who knew him said he had a good spirit. He came across an ancient, encrusted lamp.

    He took the lamp to his hut, and started to clean it up for resale. Imagine his surprise as the lamp began to smoke and shoot flames, and from this sprang a great and mighty genie.

    “Ah, I must thank thee for releasing me from my imprisonment in the lamp!” roared the great genie. “As a token of my gratitude, I grant thee three wishes. I only advise that one choose carefully.”

    “Gee,” replied the man, “I’ve been struggling for years in this work. Every time I get some money together, something turns up, someone I know needs help. Why, with five million dollars, I could ease my aching bones, and help my friends. Could you arrange that, and could you arrange that it be tax-free somehow? I would hate to get in trouble with the tax people.”

    “For most people, that could be a very foolish request,” replied the genie. “But I have seen you working in the time before you found my lamp, and it was for some time, longer than just today. And I got to see how you do help others. Five million of your dollars are now yours.”

    And with a roar and a cloud of smoke, a pile of money appeared in the little shanty of the beach comber.

    “Oh, this is wonderful,” said the man. “I can help my friends, and get a nicer house.”

    “You still have two wishes, sir.”

    “Yes, yes, and I’ll help out my friends and others. But I would like just a little thing for myself. I figure you’ll enjoy picking it out. Now, Mr. Genie, I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to see all of this land we call America, but it’s a beautiful place, and plenty big. I would like to have a car, to see this place I’ve read about since I was a child. I want to see my own land, I want to see America.”

    “For most people that would be a pedestrian, a common, request,” said the genie, “but watching you and listening to you reveals a love of your land. You have your vehicle.”

    Again there was a terrifying noise, and smoke, this time from outside the house. As the smoke cleared away, there was a fine automobile in front of the house, ready to go.

    “You have one remaining wish, sir.”

    “Oh my, oh my, what to choose? You’ve been so good to me. I know, this will be for the country and the world. Could you build a highway from here, in California, to Hawaii?”

    This set the genie back.

    “Master, a genie can do many things, but there are some that are difficult even for a genie. Stone, concrete, steel, all in the amounts you need, would be a tall command even for me. Would you kindly reconsider?”

    “I see, my friend, I have picked something to great. Well, I’ll just ask for something in wisdom, then, something that has baffled men for ages. Could you somehow give me, and perhaps all men, a complete understanding of women?”

    Replied the genie: “Would you like two lanes, or four lanes?”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    HSR going to get you to Hawaii?

    That said:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Roads (and no electric rail, local trolleys and high speed)=oil dependence+oil war+too many traffic fatalities+bum travel experience+costs to build and maintain roads that outstrip fuel tax revenue=dumb fear+(American wimp-out=loss of nerve).

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    CAHSR still = extensive fossil fuel use because it runs on electricity that is generated form fossil fuels.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    One can generate electricity without using fossil fuels. California does quite a bit of electrical generation that way.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Can and will are two differnet things.

    HSTSheldon Reply:

    As DP points out nicely below, a significant fraction of CA electricity “IS” non-fossil and it is likely to increase given current PV, wind and thermal station construction and plans. Several thousand megawatts.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Blah Blah Blah.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    “Blah Blah Blah.”

    Now you’ve reminded me of Ke$ha. What have you done… What have you done…

    HSTSheldon Reply:

    CAHSR will run on electricity that will increasingly be procured from fossil fuel free sources. Solar PV, Power Tower solar thermal, wind, parabolic trough, geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear etc. etc. Several thousand MW of these sources are under development around the Southwest. The fossil fuels that are still used within the state include high efficiency > 55% CC nat. gas (amongst the most efficient fossil technologies – way better than any internal combustion engine or simple cycle gas turbines like you find in aircraft) Coal is certainly still a problem but overall, CA electricity will be substantially cleaner and less CO2 intensive than any mobile powerplant you care to imagine. Isn’t physics wonderful?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    “increasingly run” as if the rest of the world is going to sit still.

    HSTSheldon Reply:

    We are comparing HSTs with other competing modes, aren’t we? At least that is what I thought. Now, the fact is that of all the transportation modes, HSR, even if run off the California grid today is significantly better than any other modes from a CO2 and pollution perspective. Better than autos, better than even the very efficient intercity buses and way better than aircraft. Go read up on thermodynamics if you think I am sprouting nonsense.

    They have two things in their favour. They use electricity and run along fixed guideways which, while a limitation in some respects, is an advantage when it comes to fuel supply (overhead catenary). They run on steel wheels and have aerodynamic profiles that put the best aircraft to shame because of the very long, approximately needle like shape. Even a boxy AEM-7 “toaster” pulling Amfleet coaches on the Northeast corridor beats the pants off any jetliner you care to imagine and is certainly way better than any auto or even intercity bus. Because of these attributes, they are among the most fuel efficient means to move humans and their baggage over land. Their heavier, slower compatriots, the two mile long freights are concurrently the most fuel efficient way to move goods over land, bested only by ocean going supervessels and down stream multi tow river barges.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Indeed, the rest of the world won’t sit still — the rest of the world is electrifying and installing renewable electricity generation much faster than the US.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    California’s electrical power sources are very diversified compared with the rest of the nation (hope the spaces for the columns come out right):

    California Gross System Power 2003/Fuel Type Gigawatt-Hours [2] [3]
    ———————————————————————-

    Fuel Type GSP % of Total

    Coal ………………….59,016 21.3
    Large Hydro …….. 44,926 16.2
    Natural Gas ………102,005 36.9
    Nuclear ………………41,925 15.2
    Renewables ………..28,740 10.4

    Renewables Breakdown:
    Biomass ……….. 5,574 2.0
    Geothermal …… 13,771 5.0
    Small Hydro …… 5,146 1.9
    Solar …………….. 758 0.3
    Wind ……………. 3,491 1.3
    ——— ——–
    ——- 28,740

    To convert from gigawatt hours into megawatts, divide the number of
    gigawatts by 8,760 then multiply by 1,000 to get megawatts.

    For the country as a whole, the primary sources of electricity (2010) work out to:

    45%–Coal
    24%–Natural Gas
    20%–Nuclear
    10%–Renewable
    1%—Oil

    My own state of West Virginia is 98% coal, 2% renewable (hydro).

    Sources:

    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/400733.html

    http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=electricity_in_the_united_states

    Oh, it’s my understanding that the Northeast Corridor gets 55% of its electricity from hydro power, much of that from a large station near Philadelphia that may have been at least partially built to serve the then-new Pennsy electrification in the 1930s.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Bah, not as well as I would have liked. . .

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe_Harbor_Dam

    All those converter stations along the line use whatever is available. So if PECO gets 60% of it’s electricity from fossil fuel, 60% of the energy the converter stations use is from fossil fuels. And that implies that 40% comes from non-fossil sources.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    One other comment–all of these alternate sources of electrical power have problems, including the pollution from coal, but reliance on imports and an international marketplace and associated pricing mechanism that has us bidding against China for our own oil (even if it never leaves the country), and the necessity of guarding said international sources and trading routes, are not among them.

    In contrast, transportation is something like 99% oil-dependent. The 1% that isn’t would be whatever electric railroad and transit operations we have (and maybe a tiny, tiny bit represented by heritage railroads with freight service handled by coal-burning steam locomotives–there are one or two of those).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Every source of power has problems, but solar is pretty close to unproblematic.

    As is “Niagara Falls style” hydro, but that’s mostly built out.

    James in PA Reply:

    Even hydro has a risk. In general if large amounts of potential and kinetic energy are involved in a system, there is some level or risk.

    Turbine failure:
    http://depletedcranium.com/deadly-catastrophic-failure-at-russian-hydroelectric-dam/

    Displacement of water:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6COeNRToYqU

    Nathanael Reply:

    You’re just making shit up, Drunken Unreality. I think you are taking quotes straight out of Big Oil propaganda.

    Derek Reply:

    “Here we are building new Express lanes that nobody is using…”

    Which ones are those?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    SR-125 which went bankrupt and was bought out by SANDAG comes to mind. The 241 is pretty well traveled, but combined the 241, 261, and 133 don’t make a profit, nor does the 73.

    Derek Reply:

    None of the roads you list have express lanes.

    Derek Reply:

    This is important because express lanes maximize both revenue and ridership. Fixed price toll roads don’t.

    Joseph E Reply:

    The I-91 Express Lanes, the first such project, was bailed out by taxpayers for over $200 million dollars in 2002: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_State_Route_91#91_Express_Lanes

    Do you know of any successful implementations of a partial toll road in this country?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    They weren’t bailed out, they were bought out because Caltrans had agreed to some stupid contract terms.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I seem to recall that the County of Orange embarked on its brilliant vision for tollways after of a certain bankruptcy in 1994 which was then auspiciously underwritten by Sacramento until this year. And then after building it and finding revenue was nowhere to be found (except on the 91 Lexus Lane) argued it was because CalTrans and the Coastal Commission blocked the 241 extension to San Onofre.

    Mysteriously, proponents of “The Toll Roads” ™ continue to argue for their expansion despite the fact that without affordable housing or a new airport there’s not much economic activity going on down there where they aren’t filming “Housewives”.

    But of course, reasonable individuals such as yourself can deny that “The Toll Roads” ever received a “bail-out”, but I’m not sure what you will call it when the State takes back the roads in the future because the project never covered it’s cost through user fees.

    Maybe “Cal TARP”? How about “The Highway Stabilization Act?” “The State Law to Consolidate Thoroughfare Ownership”?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Except that the 91 makes a profit and the two TCAs were formed by the CA legislature in 1986, rather before the bankruptcy. Reputedly the 241 is profitable as well even without the extension, but it’s financials are lumped in with the 261 and 133.

    If you had bothered to actually read the 241’s arguments, the justification for expansion is to alleviate congestion on the I-5 by providing a bypass (they predict one hour between Mission Viejo and the OC/SD border without it for instance), not due to inherent traffic generation of the region (something like 3% of traffic would originate or end in San Clemente for instance).

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Bothered to read????

    Any fool who checks traffic at 5pm can see the 405 and 5 in Orange County are choked solid while the 241, 133, and 73 are bathed in green light. I mean, when you charge more per mile than a suspension bridge you can’t be surprised that they are underwater.

    Secondly, the argument about alleviating congestion would be far more believable if you didn’t have the Irvine Company building subdivisions all around South Orange County. I mean, you have placed like Foothill Ranch that have no access to anything but a Toll Road and got places like San Clemente annexing land to put subdivisions in the middle of nowhere.

    You have to remember that congestion is a result of ZONING, not infrastructure. There’s nothing zoned in South Orange County that warrants the Toll Roads ™ .

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Magnus. Did you see the tolls they were charging on the 125? It was $3 each way. My brother lives off that toll road. He says people don’t use it for three reasons: 1 – the toll, 2 – the toll and 3 – There wasn’t a lot of traffic to get to the 805 using surface roads in the first place. It was $1 each way when it first opened. He used it every day and a couple of times it was so busy that they had actual slowing at the merge from the tollroad to the freeway. It shot up to $3 and he said everyone went back to using surface roads. Cars don’t wear down roads, trucks do. Charge the trucks and drop car tolls to $1 and the problem would have been solved because 2,000 cars a day paying a buck is better than 300 paying $3.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Truckers often make special efforts to evade tolls, even when it costs more in gas. Never quite figured out why, myself…

    Emma Reply:

    I-15 Express lane just got finished. There are countless here in San Diego County and nobody is using them.

    Derek Reply:

    Because they just got finished. Give it time.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Read “The Big Roads” recently published by Earl Swift. Highways aren’t just about transportation, but also “curing” urban blight.

  4. joe
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 19:25
    #4

    Too Bad

    Mr. Van Ark dropped by Gilroy on Friday, something he apparently didn’t need to do.

    High-speed rail CEO travels to Gilroy for third time
    http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/city_local_government/article_187b96bc-3d62-11e1-a001-0019bb30f31a.html

    Friday’s meeting also emerged as City of Gilroy leaders finalize a $600,000 grant for high-speed rail station planning, though van Ark reportedly told local leaders the Rail Authority won’t picked a preferred Gilroy station – either downtown or east of U.S. Highway 101 – for at least two years.
    If the project does start later this year, the line won’t reach Gilroy for at least five years, van Ark said, according to Woodward.

  5. Jack
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 19:42
    #5

    I’d like to know more about the impact of moving CHSRA to Cal-trans. Didn’t we talk about this a few months ago? I seem to recall the head of cal-trans stating something to the effect of; We are short talent to manage our own projects, we simply don’t have the resources to do HSR as well.

    Or am I remember wrongly?

    David Reply:

    It’s amazing how an agency’s priorities can change when a Governor is breathing down its neck.

  6. Roger Christensen
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 19:51
    #6

    Today’s historic HSR meeting in Los Angeles comes on the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Backbone Route. With Gov Pat Brown cheering “let’s start digging”, the press/groundbreaking event was at the corner of 1st and Broadway on Jan 12, 1962. This for a subway along Wilshire to Westwood.
    It took 31 years and two agencies later for that segment to open. It could 20 years before we see Westwood.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And I believe it was the following year that saw the end of the LARY cars. Anointed transit “experts” are not to be trusted. The highway lobby is truly the enemy but it has regularly benefited from stealth anti-rail “transit consultant” collaborators and quislings.

  7. Sobering Reality
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 19:57
    #7

    “I need to focus myself more on my family, and maybe some other interests,” he told board members. He said he may continue on the project as a consultant.

    **********

    Read: You all are nuts, but when you want to spedn more money on studies, sign my ass up. I dont’ mind taking candy from a baby.

    One epic fail after another. You almost can’t write this script.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In re Mr. Van Ark and and perhaps in his defense, may I suggest that the litmus test of a good engineer is that he would ultimately gag on the Detour. And the contrary.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    are you mark powell??? the “red” teabagger?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    No, but you’re clearly a lemming with nothing to contribute.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I think Van Ark is actually telling the truth, y’know? Remember he sort of fell into the job in the first place.

  8. Keith Saggers
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 20:34
    #8

    Dear Tom

    London to France is complete, next up, London to Midlands, North of England and Scotland.

    Was intrigued to read that completion of Bakersfield to LA rail woud mean a 7 to 8 hour train journey between SF/LA, please confirm.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    What are those crazy Brits thinking? Don’t they realize that putting Birmingham on a spur will result in substandard HSR service!?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Birmingham is already a real city.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Birmingham population: 1m, 2.2m metro
    San Jose population: 950k, 1.9m metro

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Views from Birmingham New Street Station:

    Looking north

    parallel to the station house

    Looking west

    Observe the lack of quintessential features of urbanity: large parking garages, freeway interchanges, strip malls, sports stadiums, office parks. Birmingham may be large, but it’s not as real a city as San Jose. That’s why it’s on a spur – San Jose, as a major city, has to be on the mainline to signify its urban importance.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Addendum: observe also that Birmingham has pedestrians on the streets, proving that it’s a ghetto wasteland. In a prosperous real city, the people are all in cars.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Birmingham is a bit of a mess. You can cherry pick a few pictures from the city center that are much smaller than the walkable areas of San Francisco, and maybe comparable to Downtown San Diego. However, much of the city is gutted by ill advised ring roads, and huge proportions of the population live in comparatively low density, low income sprawl. They do utilize the existing railway by overlaying something like a commuter rail system with high frequency and close stop spacing using diesel trains. If you want to compare Birmingham to San Jose, San Jose’s higher economic output and proximity to other high density areas probably tilt in favor of the latter even if it has a couple hundred thousand fewer people in the metro area.

    I think people and the government support HS2 in England for several reasons. One is to connect Birmingham to London and Europe’s economy. Birmingham is pretty much underperforming, so a high speed link is expected to improve its attractiveness for business. Another reason is that HSR will enable better connections from a large number of cities in the north of England and the south of Scotland, totaling many millions of people. It’s just the next phase of the buildout, which actually took a very long time to do compared with other European countries. There’s a huge economic divide between the Southeast of England and the rest of Great Britain.

    In that sense, California has a much better case for HSR. There are two *huge* destinations in terms of economic impact and population, between which there is already a very large demand for transportation. It’s not just connecting a unimodal economy to a large number of comparatively underperforming cities. The economy of the Los Angeles metro area is significantly larger than that of London, and San Francisco/Oakland has a bigger economy than any city in the UK aside from London (about half the size). In fact, if you sum the sizes of the Los Angeles and San Francisco economies, you end up with something similar to the sum of the economies of London and Paris. That’s not including all the other destinations on the line, and CAHSR will connect LA and SF in about the same time as Eurostar connects London and Paris. There are a huge number of political problems with CAHSR right now, but the economics makes a lot of sense.

    Jonathan Reply:

    …and of course the original Spaghetti Junction is in Birmingham….

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I can’t resist the temptation–there is a Birmingham, Alabama, in the US, and it has a location called “Tuxedo Junction,” immortalized in song:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuxedo_Junction

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBTYcqtaOjg

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @DP – Not much of a place to visit either.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Birmingham spur is short compared to proposed San Jose spurs. And without FRA rules, trains can pull into Birmingham, reverse, and continue onward.

    David Reply:

    I’m guessing that it would be Emeryville/LA in that case.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Keith,

    I know London to Paris is complete. What I meant was that if he wants to go home to France it’s a much shorter trip to the Continent than from Sacramento….

    Peter Reply:

    For whom, van Ark? If so, the correct continent to refer to is Africa.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    South Africa has seen a lot of net out migration since the end of apartheid, especially among Boers (Dutch) residents like van Ark. I coulda sworn the guy had French citizenshp (very helpful if you are going to Africa often) but I guess he’s a US citizen.

    My bad.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Philippe Mellier resigned last year as president of Alstom Transport and was immediately appointed CEO of De Beers. So, migration works both ways…

  9. morris brown
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 22:47
    #9

    LA Times: Chief executive of high-speed rail project steps down

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0113-bullet-resign-20120113,0,7586034.story

    Quite a bit of new information on this amazing development today. Quotes from Simitian, Lowenthal.

    Note director Toledo has also resigned. Dan Leavitt is leaving.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The gist of this article is that Van Ark was purged by Jerry Brown, who seems, for better or worse, to be making Stilt-A-Rail the theme project of his regime. Expect servile political hacks, along the lines of MTC apparatchiks, as replacements for the departed.

    What’s strange to me is that Brown’s sworn enemies are not taking advantage of the situation. Why are the infamous Koch Bros., Big Oil, etc., etc. not fronting the money to collect signatures for a re-vote, when the prospects of a turn-down are good? Can’t figure that one out.

    Organized labor is now carrying the water for the CHSRA scheme. They will expect payback, in the form of mandatory union guys hired by the contractors and no doubt the minority militants will soon demand quotas. That would inflate bids but very hard to predict because there are both deflationary and inflationary pressures going on in the economy simultaneously.

    For sure the sovereign debt crisis is far from over and once Europe locks into sleepwalk austerity the shorters will start hammering at the US deficit. If Pelosi Keynsianism on steroids returns to the fore expect the dollar to devalue and imports to cost more, maybe a lot.

    Same for California, where the machine will soon have a 2/3 lock and one can expect a tidal wave of welfare spending. It is interesting that the green visors are already complaining that it is difficult to estimate how much tax revenue can be extracted from the wealthy, as their “income” is so “volatile”. Translation: the bureaucrats don’t know how, for instance, the soi-disant “liberal” super-rich of, say, Beverly Hills, will react when the taxman Knocks on their door in earnest. They are not accustomed to that.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Government 101. When it first appears that government is being irresponsible, fire someone so you look like you’re trying to be responsible even when you aren’t.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Delusional, utterly delusional.

    jim Reply:

    On the “Did he fall or was he pushed?” question:

    Richard said Van Ark wanted to depart as long as six months ago and the rail board persuaded him to stay on through at least the introduction of a new project business plan.

    synonymouse Reply:

    professional etiquette, always discreet and classy, But Walters, etc., will ferret out the tabloid gossip.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is almost certainly true. We knew Van Ark didn’t really want the job in the first place; he took it when the previous guy was pushed out (and the previous guy *was* pushed out IIRC).

  10. Jack
    Jan 12th, 2012 at 23:04
    #10

    Oh yes, our best friend. Mr. Vartabedian…

  11. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 04:29
    #11
  12. Patrick
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 10:47
    #12

    CHSRA spokesperson Rachel Wall is also leaving.

  13. Michael Mahoney
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 11:27
    #13

    Back to Roelof. He was obviously a technical guy, not a politician, as opposed to his predecessor, who was weak on technical issues but had mastered the politician’s art of telling people what they want to hear. The politicians, having won the bond election, figured that it was plain sailing, politically, from here on, i.e., they were telling themselves what they wanted to hear.

    Roelof must have known better. As a technical guy he must have been able to see that, for example, the decision to widen the ROW next to UP, which meant that the Authority was running a 150-foot-wide path through all these Valley towns, was going to have political repercussions. I am sure that, in his employment interview, he asked the political types if they would give him cover when the Authority’s technical movements caused political pushback. They assured him that they would …. Which is what he wanted to hear.

    synonymouse Reply:

    My impression is that Van Ark, when frustrated, would push the envelope to force a reaction out of the oblivious, the apathetic, the somnolent. That would of course be Brown and all the various leeches and lobbies. It worked with nowhere to nowhere and Tejon.

    No private entrepreneur would touch this scab-together with the proverbial 10 foot pole. And Van Ark knew it.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I think it’s more like this:

    van Ark was hired by the Schwarzenegger people because they envisioned him telling them which foreign investment offer would be the best and using his acumen to cut through the snow jobs.

    Then, as Arnold’s trade mission to China went belly up, Japan suffered an earthquake, and Europe wallowed in debt, it was pretty clear that things were going to have to be done the hard way. Given the amount of political browbeating that was going on, it’s likely that van Ark just didn’t want to be in charge any more and with Dan Richard taking over didn’t need to guide the agency any more.

    Why talk to the priest when you can talk to God?

    The real question is if Brown and Richard really want a bad-ass m****er agency head. I’m sure for example, David Gunn might come out of retirement to piss off the right people. Norm Mineta could certainly give the project gravitas. And then of course, there’s always Will Kempton or Bill Bronte.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It would be too much to ask for, but I would enjoy seeing Gunn doing just what he has always done. , . .”to the right people!”

    Emma Reply:

    That’s why I say, maybe we should start again one decade from now and use those funds to provide HSR-lite and extensions for light rail as well as station upgrades.

    What we need to do is swallow our pride and merging the HSR project with existing rail corridors. LOSSAN is a great example as well as Caltrain North of SJ. The Authority cannot walk around with the attitude that we have $100 billion available. Instead they have to make decisions as if those $9.95 billion are the only thing they have. If that happens, priority will shift from the extremely expensive Central Valley section to the ends in LA and SF. The areas with the highest population density, the best public transit systems that could connect to future stations, and the highest revenue.

    Nathanael Reply:

    California should not wait a decade to start building under any circumstances.

    You have no idea how freaking bad things are going to get without good transportation if you push the completion date out another 10 years. The US has already degenerated to the point where people are emigrating; pushing HSR out to 2030 or 2040 is a good way to make sure the emigration accelerates.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Real Americans ™ don’t emigrate so there’s no loss is there?

    Eric Fredericks Reply:

    I think Mehdi understood the technical side really well.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Hey, Quentin, what’s up, my man?”

  14. Missiondweller
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 13:04
    #14

    Sounds like a Palace Coup

  15. morris brown
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 17:21
    #15

    The California Sierra Club today released a letter

    Link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/78204557/Sierra-Club-California-Comments-on-HSR-Business-Plan-1-13-12

    to the CHSRA, concluding with For this and all of the reasons expressed above, we urge the HSRA to reconsider its business plan.

    The Sierra Club has been a huge supporter of this project, until now.

    From the letter we read:

    It appears that, as currently proposed, the rail project will either not be completed, will be completed in a way that would create substantial, unmitigated environmental damage, or will be completed at the expense of other pressing transit needs. We continue to support a robust mass transit system statewide that includes fast and reliable passenger rail and that reduces transportation’s environmental impacts in California. However, the draft business plan does not leave us feeling optimistic about the viability of the current high-speed rail (HSR) program.

    Sierra Club California staff and volunteers have carefully reviewed the business plan. We have concluded that it is seriously flawed and should be revisited. We acknowledge and accept—as did the voters in 2008—that a high-speed rail system will require substantial investment. However, it is essential that plans for the system, including the business and financial plan, be grounded and inspire confidence in the project’s potential to justify and encourage that investment. This plan fails to do that.

    The plan is based on faulty assumptions about ridership, revenue and investment. It underestimates the funding needed and overestimates the funding available to support essential linkages to the rail route. We describe these flaws and our concerns below.

    In part because of inflated ridership and revenue projections, the contention that the IOS would turn an operating profit, and therefore attract private capital to help pay for subsequent high-speed extensions, appears to be unfounded. The plan emphasizes the importance of private investment. Private investment is attracted by the lure of profit that does not entail the assumption of excessive risk. Since Proposition 1A prohibits the State of California from subsidizing the high-speed rail operation, the system would have to generate enough in revenue to pay all its operating and maintenance costs, with enough left over to provide a reasonable return to the investor. However, as noted in the comments above, there is virtually no chance of producing the operating surpluses required to demonstrate a money-making HSR operation.

    The best, most environmentally beneficial transportation system will incorporate a range of options that help people minimize their per-capita vehicle emissions and vehicle miles traveled without sacrificing their access to school, work and services. The current business plan presents the risk that a single transportation project could absorb all public funding at the expense of a robust system. For this and all of the reasons expressed above, we urge the HSRA to reconsider its business plan.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What is the Sierra Club position on the Tejon Ranch and developing it?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Let me Google that for you.

    No real need, though, was there. It’s easy to predict. The usual sad story when up against hundreds of millions of utterly unethical and rapacious dollars and no chance. Bought out, sold out.

    It was a nice planet for a while there, wasn’t it?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Makes me feel better about quitting them a long time ago.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Sierra Club California’s gone rather extreme on the NIMBY *and* doesn’t seem to understand economics any more (like SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE), what with the ludicrous claims that HSR expenditures will somehow come at the expense of other public transportation expenditures.

    Sad.

  16. Reality Check
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 18:58
    #16

    Brown moves to revamp CA high-speed rail project

    Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that his appointees to the board overseeing California’s embattled $98 billion high-speed rail project will fix its problems and offer a revamped business plan after the rail authority’s director and its board chairman resigned a day earlier.

    The Democratic governor told reporters in Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb, that he will not join the “defeatist crowd” that believes the project is impossible.

    “We’re going to build, but we’re not going to be stupid. And we’ll listen to the critics, and we’ll fix things and we’ll do the right thing,” Brown said. “We’re not going to go overboard. We’re going to be very careful and build incrementally as we go.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Detour is overboard.

    C’mon, Jerry, what happened to your cojones? You want to hassle the what are in the end basically ordinary citizens of PAMPA. Joust with a real windmill – the Tejon Ranch mob.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Only in California can people elect the same mistake twice in a single generation. Jesus this State is a mess.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Saint Ronnie? It’s rude to speak ill of the dead.

    jimsf Reply:

    tens of millions of people love it here. Its actually a very nice place.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Perhaps you are speaking of Reagan. But in any case, you’re wrong; the whole US elected that mistake twice in one generation, as well.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Moonbeam, this is the Titanic. It’s sinking. Trying to stop the flooding isn’t going to help at this point.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Drunken Unreality, I look forward to seeing you on the high-speed train from Fresno to Bakersfield some day. Of course, by then you may be very poor, having spent all your money on very expensive oil, so you may not be able to afford it…

  17. Reality Check
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 19:09
    #17

    CSU Bakersfield to host high-speed rail discussions

    The debate over high-speed rail is coming to Cal State Bakersfield — and everyone’s invited aboard.

    A free series of five sessions begins Wednesday with a discussion of the project’s job-creation potential. The final event March 14 is to be a town hall-type forum that could feature Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Bakersfield Republican who is among the project’s biggest opponents in Washington.

  18. Howard
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 19:25
    #18

    The “California Report” just did a segment on CHSR with a comparison to HSR in Spain. It and the Fresno Bee will be doing a series on it starting tomorrow.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Here’s the California Report piece: High-Speed Rail Shake-Up

  19. Reality Check
    Jan 13th, 2012 at 20:23
    #19

    Critics worry high-speed rail approvals will be fast-tracked

    Although Feuer’s staff said the bill is not intended to fast-track the bullet train, the issue is an “ongoing concern,” said lawyer Stuart Flashman, who represented Peninsula groups in two environmental lawsuits concerning the project.

    Proponents of the high-speed rail plan “would definitely love to exempt this whole thing from CEQA,” he said, using the acronym for the California Environmental Quality Act.

    […]

    The governor’s office and rail authority didn’t respond to e-mails asking whether they would favor exempting the bullet train from environmental review.

    As California Watch has reported, high-speed rail faces a flurry of litigation, all concerning the bullet train’s route. In addition to the Peninsula suits, lawsuits challenging the project have been filed in Kings County in the Central Valley and in Los Angeles.

    And another one is threatened, as agricultural interests fear that the proposed line between Fresno and Merced will wreck prime farmland.

    Richard Tolmach, president of the California Rail Foundation and a critic of the project, said an attempt to exempt the bullet train from environmental review would cause an outcry, especially in the Central Valley.

    “That could cause major repercussions, if the valley farmers thought they were getting their environmental protection taken away,” he said.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Tolmach’s an idiot and has been for years.

    Jerry Brown will do exactly what he needs to do to ensure the future of the state he loves. He doesn’t have to worry about re-election. Should be interesting.

Comments are closed.