More Reasons Not To Expect a New Transportation Bill Until 2013

May 7th, 2012 | Posted by

Because Democrats failed to pass a new Transportation Bill when they controlled both Congress and the White House in 2009 and 2010, the bill’s renewal has been stuck in limbo since the far right seized control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. Despite some efforts to get a new bill approved this year, the bill appears to be stuck. And as Transportation Issues Daily reports, there are two reasons why we shouldn’t expect a new bill anytime this year:

There are two reasons Congress is unlikely to pass a new bill, and instead will extend SAFETEA-LU, in a lame duck session.

1. The logistics are against it. Congress will likely have only about four weeks to deal with a multitude of issues. True, there are about seven weeks between Election Day and January 2 when the sequester-triggered spending cuts are scheduled to occur. But holidays will cut out two weeks to three weeks. Figure another week off right after the election. There simply won’t be enough time to deal with all the issues that are being postponed to the lame duck session.

2. Other issues will trump transportation. First and foremost will be a 2013 budget, and dealing with the looming sequestration spending reductions and expiring tax cuts. Other issues that likely will need to be addressed and could trump transportation: payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, doctors’ Medicare payments, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and the estate tax and the renewal of a tax-extenders package. Other issues that could get postponed to the lame duck session include major legislation like the renewal of the Farm Bill.

Perhaps the best predictor that the lame duck session will be “chaotic [and] high-stakes” is that lobbyists are already cancelling their November/December vacations. One lobbyist advises others to complete their holiday shopping before the election.

The best hope for high speed rail advocates is that nothing happens until 2013 and Democrats win this November’s elections – keeping the Senate and the White House and retaking the House. It’s no guarantee that Dems would pass a Transportation Bill, as 2009 and 2010 showed us. On the other hand, the experience of those two years would show Dems that they might not have a lot of time in the majority and should get good things done now. More importantly, Democrats in the House and the Senate have shown support for funding high speed rail, and we know that President Obama has been a strong proponent of HSR funding.

A new Transportation Bill with dedicated and predictable funding for HSR would go a long way to easing some of the concerns from HSR skeptics in California about the project’s finances. Tea Party Republicans in the House have gutted federal HSR funding in the last two years, making other HSR projects look less viable because of the lack of long-term federal funding. A new majority in the House could reverse that and bolster the California HSR project with dedicated funding.

At least, that’s the hope.

  1. Tom McNamara
    May 7th, 2012 at 22:20

    OT: Metrolink CEO Quits, Takes Job in Florida

    His most ambitious move was a pledge to install positive train control by the end of 2013. Estimated to cost $201 million, the system marries global positioning technology to computers and digital radio communications.

    Spokker Reply:

    He was a good CEO.

    Reedman Reply:

    If the new job is the same salary, it will be a 10% increase in take home pay because Florida has no state income tax.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Except that state income tax is deductible from your federal income tax, and the rate for federal tax rates is higher than for the state….

    Peter Reply:

    A deduction isn’t going to help as much as a straight-up elimination of a tax, similar to how a tax credit is better than a deduction.

    joe Reply:

    Correct – but the goal isn’t to race FL to the bottom of the barrel. They elected a super villain as Governor. I don’t want to copy that state.

    Plus he isn’t leaving to run a public transit system in FL. The holding company that hired him to operate 12 regional freight carriers is based in FL. It’s FL at the coast.

    Also – I bet the regional freight lines are NOT in CA.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Do they hold the FEC, or is it a different holding company? The FEC says they are going to be running an express passenger service from Miami to Orlando in another two year’s time.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Different company. He’s working for Patriot Rail. FEC is a subsidiary of Fortress Investment which also owns RailAmerica (for a period of time FEC was under RailAmerica as well, but they were later spun back out).

  2. lex luther
    May 7th, 2012 at 22:29

    Dems will not be retaking the house this time. Things will remain the same, and Obama is not a guarantee for re-election so either way dont look for much action coming from Washington.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I actually think that the Dems might be willing to strike a deal in which Keystone happens, but the new energy revenues go to transportation.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Lex..Robert loves your trollness

    BruceMcF Reply:

    From a purely partisans “Red team / Blue Team” perspective, its likely that nothing much will change. The Democrats will flip a few seats, but nowhere near enough to retake the Majority in the House. Meanwhile the once strong prospects for the Republicans to take a majority in the Senate have dwindled a bit over the past three months.

    However , from the perspective of your Tea Party wing dominating the Republican majority, a status quo outcome is not nearly so certain: a relative handful of incumbents losing on the basis of being tied with the Tea Party would be sufficient to both narrow the majority and weaken the hold of the Tea Party representatives over the balance of the House Republican Caucus.

    lex luther Reply:

    im not tea party. palin and joe the fake plummer are nut jobs.

    and yes your right, most likely dems will flip a few seats, repubs might flip a few in more moderate districts depending on the economy of the state they are in

    im still unsure so far as to who will be POTUS. Obama so far hasnt been able to energize the base like he did in 2008.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yeah, you claim your not, but you seem to repeat most of the same points that the tea party supports make, and have linked to righwing nutjob information sources like the Washington Times, so its a bit ambiguous. And I’d bet that Dick Armey believes that Palin and Joe the Plumber are nutjobs, its just that they were useful nutjobs for his political purposes.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You use arguments favored by tea partiers and link to right wing nutjob information sources like the Washington Times, so I’ll believe you’re not tea party when I see you take positions that are not tea party positions. Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber are opportunists riding the wave ~ I assume that Dick Armey knows full well that they are nut jobs, but he’s only likely to say so if it becomes politically convenient.

    There aren’t many “more moderate” districts left for the Replicants to flip, while there are quite a number of moderate lean R and lean D districts taken from incumbent Democrats by radical right wing Republicans in 2010 who have to be hoping that nobody will notice their votes to gut Medicare.

    VBobier Reply:

    We will see Lex, We will see. Public opinion outside of the Repugnican Party holds a different thought as does History & History says a Presidential election draws more out to vote than in Non Presidential elections, so We shall see who’s right, as You can claim You’re right & still be WRONG in the end, as the proof is in the pudding, but then I’m not presumptuous like some are…

    lex luther Reply:

    Correct and not only do more people vote in Presidential elections, more Democrats vote than during midterm.

    But that did not help John Kerry in 2004 against dubya. Was it because of swiftboats? who knows. Either way he lost to who could easily be seen as the worst ever President.

    If Obama cannot energize his base or bring independents out to the ballot, Romney will win.
    If he was to boot Joe Biden and put Hillary as his VP, It would be a guaranteed win. While it would be alot of voltage on the bottom of the ticket, it would mean 12 years of Democratic Presidency as Hillary would easily win in 2016 and 2020

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “If Obama cannot energize his base or bring independents out to the ballot, Romney will win”.

    There’s a lot less to that statement than meets the eye, isn’t there? Its akin to “If Obama can’t win a majority of votes in states representing a majority of electoral votes, Romney will win”.

    At present, Obama is ahead, with substantially more electoral college paths to victory than Romney, but its too many months before the election to predict whether the lead will change hands, and if so how many times.

    lex luther Reply:

    @ BRUCE.

    above you said that those affiliated with TEA PARTY are going down. Well long time Senator Dick Lugar just lost in the GOP primary to a tea party nobody in Indiana. Someone as powerful as Lugar getting tossed aside spells disaster for incumbent republicans and he most likely wont be the last. this is sure to energize the right wing base of the GOP as rhetoric will stir up emotion and that will bring out more republican voters to the ballot box.

    again, unless obama does something to energize the base in the same way the tea party is firing up the GOP, this could mean trouble for the democratic controlled senate

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I didn’t say they were at risk of going down in GOP primaries. The backlash against one or the other party veering too far from the center is not experienced in primary elections, but in general elections.

    Indeed, the Democrats are licking their lips at the chance of tackling a GOP Tea Party Senate Candidate instead of Lugar. Their prospects of flipping Indiana just went from 0.00% to worth investing in.

    lex luther Reply:

    agreed, as long as donhelly is willing to paint murdock as too extreme for the country, its worth investing in

    north carolina just fired up their base banning gay marriage. Obama may possibly clarify his stance on the issue today. if he comes out for it, he gets his base energized, he loses blue dogs but keeps majority of independents and will fire up social conservatives who may have just stayed home in november to go out and vote for mitt so it has pros and cons but gives him a better chance come november.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    His support for destroying Medicare and Social Security is a more likely line of attack than the traditional social conservatism issues.

    As far as NC, the vote was not in November, so its “fired up their base” for no good effect ~ there’s a sound tactical reason why George W had the “defense of marriage” initiatives schedules for November 2004.

    lex luther Reply:

    Obama today came out in support of gay marriage. he took a stand for equality and for that, he just moved me from the wavering middle to lean left

    now get ready for the million nut march. without a doubt all the palin/joe plumber/real america folks will all get off their first cousins and come out of their trailer homes and join with the false prophet polygamist mormons who will bring their prop 8 loving ignorance to the masses. this election season is going to be awesome.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Obama today came out in support of gay marriage.

    Which makes me tempted to actually vote for Romney instead of Cthulhu.

    GoGregorio Reply:


    Spokker Reply:

    Implying gay marriage (a semantics issue as civil unions would suffice) is more important than the economy, jobs, emerging police state and our wasteful and dangerous entanglements overseas.

    Implying the government should have anything to say about marriage in the first place.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Implying gay marriage (a semantics issue as civil unions would suffice) is more important than the economy, jobs, emerging police state and our wasteful and dangerous entanglements overseas.

    Implying that there is any degree of difference between Obama and Romney on those. Besides, it’s CA, it’s a meaningless vote no matter what.

    Spokker Reply:

    Paulus, you got me there.

    HSTSheldon Reply:

    It really is funny that people can look at a definition that has held for eons and then try to change the definition to suit their needs. There are clearly differences between a gay union and a heterosexual union that merit separate definitions. How is it equal when by definition, structurally, the gay union had no past implied potential, no present implied potential and no future implied potential to do and be all the things that a heterosexual couple can. This is particularly relevant regarding the concept of family formation, the gay equivalent of which must by definition involve at least a third party with one side of the partnership not having a genetic vested interest in the outcome. Surely that cannot be ideal!

    The government has something to say about marriage precisely because of the special property of marriage to form discrete growing family units without the need for third party dealings. That property requires special legal protections, obligations etc. particularly for the underage. If marriage did not have this property, the government would have no stake in the matter. People mistakenly assume the institutional structure of marriage is about love between two consenting individuals.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It really is funny that people can look at a definition that has held for eons and then try to change the definition to suit their needs.

    Such as “slave”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    special property of marriage to form discrete growing family units

    So then infertile couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry? Post menopausal widows for instance.

    Spokker Reply:

    I thought marriage and the tax breaks given to married couples were just indirect incentives to encourage procreation. There are separate incentives now that do not involve marriage that also encourage procreation (stating your dependents on your tax return, for example).

    I’d like to see that whole system go away entirely.

    joe Reply:

    The Early Church left marriage to the State, it was a State responsibility for centuries.

    “Matrimony is called the “lay sacrament” because the parties administer it to each other. The priest as official representative of the Church is the chief witness to the sacrament. But because the Sacrament and the contract are identical, and because the matter and form are contained in the contract, the priest is not the minister of this sacrament. Rather, the man and woman themselves are the ministers of the Sacrament of Matrimony.”

    Why not two consenting adults? Oh Procreation is part of the deal too and gays/lesbians can’t procreate. No all men and woman can either.

    I’d point out in defense of Prop 8 the great defenders of marriage sought to invalided mine. We can’t have kids and instead adopted. The procreation definition argued in court by Prop 8 lawyers would invalidate Gay/Lesboian and my marriage. Sterile couples are not married. We fuck for fun.

    Our sons are not ours and we have no genetic stake in them. What is not ideal about my family? We rock.

    Third party dealings – the State of CA foster/adopts kids – that’s a shit load of party dealings, not three. Try 4 or more if the paternity is not known and they run around finding drunks and criminals to test.

    So the State and Holy Chruch both encourage adoption also encourages multiple parties.

    Spokker Reply:

    “So then infertile couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry? Post menopausal widows for instance.”

    You don’t write down your last measured sperm count or what the status of your uterine lining is. Perhaps they should start asking for this information. You could say that these people are taking advantage of the system. I’m not sure how great it is for society, from the government’s current point of view, to encourage post-menopausal women and infertile men to get married instead of just living together.

    The whole idea of government encouraging people to get married or have children is silly to me.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are separate incentives now that do not involve marriage that also encourage procreation (stating your dependents on your tax return, for example).

    Your dependents don’t have to related to you, you just need to be supporting them.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The Early Church left marriage to the State, it was a State responsibility for centuries.

    Sorry, but quite wrong on this.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Your dependents don’t have to related to you, you just need to be supporting them.”

    What about this prevents the practice of declaring dependents from encouraging procreation?

    If I am unmarried, and am thinking about having children and marrying my partner, I may take my current W-2 and dump it into an online tax program and see what my tax situation would look like if I were married, a father or both. I might throw down 1, 2, 3 or 4 children and see what it looks like. Though it is far from the deciding factor, this research will influence whether or not I get married, have children or both.

    And the plethora of programs available to women probably encourage them to ditch the father and/or make it difficult for the father to be part of his child’s life. People respond to incentives.

    While you are technically correct, the best kind of correct, I think my scenario is more practical. It is more likely for someone to be taking care of a child that is related to them. And if something like the Family Tax Relief Act passes it would reduce child care costs and adjust the incentives for having children and getting married. And this country very much wants to encourage procreation.

  3. lex luther
    May 7th, 2012 at 23:12

    keystone wont happen before the elections because obama doesnt want to piss off progressives

    Ben Reply:

    The Keystone issue is ridiculous. RepuB(P)licans claim the President is indifferent to jobs because he wants further environmental study on this. Meanwhile, the Ayn Rand-disciples in the Republican party have shown absolutely no willingness to help finance LA’s 30/10 Plan, even though this will create an estimated 160,000 jobs, eight times as many as the Keystone pipeline is expected to create.

    lex luther Reply:

    of course not because 30/10 is 160,000 contruction jobs which means unions which means putting money into the pockets of union workers who pay union dues which will go to union funded political ads which will be anti-GOP and pro-democrat.

    joe Reply:

    Horrible – is there a chance undocumented workers can be used instead ?

    lex luther Reply:

    the point is that of course they would line up against it. why would the GOP want to financially support the democratic party? because when unions donate, thats basically where the money is going.

    and with obama deporting 8 times more illegals in 4 years than dubya did in 8, there probably wont be enough left by the time 30/10 would be implemented

    VBobier Reply:

    People need jobs, the Repugnican Party doesn’t need any Jobs, but then their mostly Rich old SOB’s who are disconnected from most voters. The only thing Repugs want & are connected to is those who make BIG Campaign contributions…

    lex luther Reply:

    rich old SOB’s? you really think republicans are all rich? then why are most red states mostly non affluent? west virginia is full of rich people? the dakotas? mississippi? those are all red states that McWar/Palin carried in 2008.

    how come democrats win in the richest states then? california, new york, florida, mass?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    He didn’t say Republican voters, he said the Republican Party. You surely aren’t going to suggest that the Republican Party aren’t mostly Rich old SOBs?

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    The GOP is the party of the wealthy. Old wealth, big business, wall street, corporations. It always has been. The problem is that they can win with just those people because there aren’t enough of them. That why they put so much energy and research into convincing other people to vote against their best interest and into courting the christian right. Its why they let the lunatic fringe run rampant without stepping in.

    The republican party doesn’t care who sleeps with whom. They don’t care what any one does, or how many skeletons your family has in its closet, they only pretend to be “moral” to get bible thumper vote. ( notice they never actually give them much)

    And while yes there are many wealthy people in the democratic party who don’t follow the platform, the difference is in the platform itself.

    The republican party is unabashedly against anything that helps common people. and the democrats entire existence is based on helping the common people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There was all sorts of stuff passed during the 6 years they had control of both houses of Congress and the White House. . . wasn’t there?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Sure, plenty of tax cuts.

    neville snark Reply:

    Exactly, I say. All points correct. A+

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    how come democrats win in the richest states then? california, new york, florida, mass?

    the real questions are:

    why do so many successful people prefer living in democratic states and
    why are democratic states so much better off economically overall?

    I guess its just a coincidence that states with higher taxes, more public investment, higher union membership, better environmental laws, higher wages and bigger infrastructure, are the same ones who have the best most diversified economies overall.

    Joe Reply:

    And tolerance. You don’t prosper by limiting the pool of talent with social, race, gender identiy or religous litmus tests.

    lex luther Reply:

    get real. California, Florida, New york are the richest states not because of higher taxes, unions, etc, but because of private industry such as film producers in hollywood, big banks like wells fargo and bank of america in San Francisco, Disney in florida, more evil big banks like chase in NYC and private individuals like rockerfeller, and of course each states natural beauty which has nothing to do with any of which you mentioned but boosts the private tourism industry which creates jobs..

    Spokker Reply:

    California Taxpayer, I’m not sure that is a good reason to celebrate. Red and blue states are neck and neck when it comes to income inequality. New York has the most severe income inequality. There are successful blue states with an insane amount of concentrated poverty that progressive policies have failed to eradicate. Does it look better than Mississippi because there are enough rich folk in CA to average things out a bit more? Last I checked, Mississippi doesn’t have an entertainment industry or financial centers, but both states do have extreme poverty. What’s the point of living in economically better off blue states when you are unable to share the benefits?

    According to a recent LA Times article, the employment situation in South Los Angeles is worse than it was in the early 90s. Joe, all the tolerance and acceptance and liberalism has done little to close those gaps.

    You guys have the same problem as the Republicans. You’re just better at wishing it away.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I regard Republican wins in the rural states to be something of a con job. They run, and win, on the cultural issues. This is where they get help from the “bible thumpers.”

    The Republicans’ age demographic also tends to be older, in some cases much older. You’ve got to understand, these people remember an America that was in some ways better than what we have now, at least in fuzzy, nostalgic memory, if not in actual fact. Truth is, I remember parts of it as actual fact. They’ve seen a lot of things “go downhill.” I can personally attest to the loss of downtown stores, steel plants that made the money for families to buy in those stores, and of course the jobs of the people who worked in those coal mines and steel plants and glass factories.

    A coworker summed it up by saying these people “had seen too many of the wrong changes.”

    And the Republicans blame a lot of these “wrong changes” on things like no prayer in schools (and hence no instruction on right vs. wrong, hence teen pregnancy, AIDS, and horrible, or “slutty” fashions for kids), on environmental laws that supposedly strangle American businesses (forgetting that some of us remember when Pittsburgh could be dark at three in the afternoon, or that a river could catch fire in Ohio), on racial quotas (where black people get jobs that should go to “more qualified” white people–maybe that’s accurate, but likely it at least as often is not, and even then, how do you make up for the centuries of discrimination?) You can just imagine how things like same-sex marriage plays to this group (and even I have to admit to thinking it just isn’t natural).

    The “social conservative” mindset does place its values on things other than money and a big house. Religious faith, being a good neighbor and citizen, paying taxes, supporting yourself through work are part of this. Think of Yeoman America, the backbone of the nation!

    The great irony is that “Yeoman America,” also known as Real America ™, doesn’t really get anything like what it wants from the Republicans. That party winds up just giving corporations license to do what they want to do, or at least attempting to get laws changed to that effect, but does little if anything real on those cultural issues, as if anything real can be done in most if not all all of them.

    Instead, all the Republicans seem to do is make big talk on this. Don’t like too much bad language and other things in movies and other popular entertainment? That would suggest a form of censorship, and it’s interesting to note that Hollywood’s classic era, (which some would argue was its best era), was indeed under a strict censorship code which apparently didn’t really hurt creativity much, but you don’t see any real effort to bring it back. Legally, I don’t think it could be brought back, courtesy of changes in the country and legal precedents in the Supreme Court. Besides, what Congressman or governor from, say Kansas or Oklahoma, is going to be able to do with the owners of “adult studios” in Burbank, or even the big studios in Hollywood? It’s out of their jurisdiction, and out of their power. You might as well protest against the man in the moon.

    But these phony “conservatives,” who are really corporatists, win, because they are “taking a stand for decency” or some such thing. Nothing else counts–not the lack of real action on these social issues, nor the lack of real action on getting budgets in line. No, they are “on the side of God!” for taking that stand!

    “Phooey!!” sez I!!

    It’s sad to say, especially for someone as old-fashioned as I am, but it’s true–too many “conservatives” are either con men or dupes or rubes or fanatics, and mean-spirited ones at that. They have apparently forgotten that we are to “love our enemies,” or at least respect them. They have also forgotten, or never learned, that Jesus Himself summarized the ten commandments and all the Jewish law to just two commandments: love God, and love your neighbor.

    How much better would our world be if more people lived those two simple orders? How simple would so many discussions be, including HSR and rail in general,people looked at the others, including rail promoters, and saw their neighbors, their fellow citizens?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    You know, unions and union members aren’t necessarily bad things. I used to be a member of a group restoring an old railroad roundhouse in Martinsburg, W.Va., and part of the restoration included a great deal of brickwork from years of neglect.

    The firm that was chosen used union bricklayers, and they were a fine bunch. Conscientious and fast, both! They knew their stuff. I can’t help but also wonder if the site inspired them; this roundhouse was the flashpoint of the first national labor uprising in 1877. That railroad strike was the first national one, and was largely spontaneous; in that respect, it was something like what the Tea Party used to be and what the Occupy movement still is.

    One can argue that, like Occupy, it had its negative moments, too–in Pittsburgh, workers clashed with National Guardsmen; part of the animosity between the railroaders and the militia was that the militia was from Philadelphia, and many of its members were from wealthy families, while the railroaders were obviously working men. (The local militia turned out to be ineffective; too many of its members were either railroaders, relatives of railroaders, friends of railroaders, or people who knew the railroaders as customers in their shops.) It didn’t help matters that the strikers in Pittsburgh got into several cars loaded with whiskey. The end result was a miles-long bonfire of warehouses, freight cars, repair shops, and the station in Pittsburgh.

    The strike was eventually put down by the army, but it caused the more sensitive members of railroad management to wonder what went wrong. Among a variety of following actions, both good and bad, at least one railroad eventually came out with a retirement plan, which became the pattern for Railroad Retirement, and which in turn became the pattern for Social Security.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Oh, I nearly forgot to mention–that unionized brick firm had the low bid. In fact, the unionized firms bidding on the work had lower prices overall than the non-union ones. Interesting. . .

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    While looking up material on Martinsburg, I came across this jewel–railroad movie footage, mostly from the east (NYC, PRR, Ulster & Delaware)–from the 1890s and early 1900s:

    Bet Adirondacker will love it. . .

    VBobier Reply:

    So what if their Union Jobs?? Jobs are Jobs, If You were unemployed You’d be a fool to refuse to take one if You could.

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    A union worker who makes 50,000 a year might pay 600 a year in dues, then 25 percent of that 50k goes to local state and federal govt in taxes, and the rest pays the families mortgage car payment and groceries.
    Ordinary middle class workers and you have a problem with it because you are more concerned with protecting your politics than having middle class folks pay their bills.

    Ben Reply:

    Additionally, because energy extraction and production is so capital-intensive, far fewer jobs are produced with each dollar invested in the energy sector than other industries of our economy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    somebody somewhere has to produce the capital goods.

    lex luther Reply:

    so we should abandon the energy sector?

    Ben Reply:

    No, we should abandon the sanctimonious BS that the President isn’t interested in creating jobs.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its the Republican party position to abandon the growth areas of the energy sector, in support of scraping the bottom of the barrel for oil and natural gas.

    Of course, combined petroleum and natural gas liquid production declined under Bush and have increased under Obama, and the production in question for the Keystone pipeline is not US petroleum production, its Canadian tar sands production for refining in the US and export overseas.

    VBobier Reply:

    The oil and coal part yes, the rest no, Big Oil is raking in Billions in Profits that are barely taxed, as far as I’m concerned their guilty of Tax Evasion… And last I looked Tax Evasion is a Federal and State Crime, Al Capone was sent up the river for Tax Evasion, He died there too.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s the status quo energy sector, dedicated to scraping the bottom of the barrel, and the energy sector with opportunities for substantial future growth in both domestic and export markets.

    The Republican policy is to abandon the part of the energy sector with a long term future, the administration policy is “all of the above”. The policy of boldly and enthusiastically grabbing the future is not on offer in the Presidential election.

    The Keystone is not about US petroleum production, its about getting Canadian tar sands to US refineries for export overseas.

  4. D. P. Lubic
    May 8th, 2012 at 05:38

    Off topic, but of interest, and this is the handiest place to put it: perspectives on why some people are afraid of bikes and trains, as viewed from Great Britain:

  5. Peter Baldo
    May 8th, 2012 at 19:12

    Before trying to pass a Transportation Bill, it would be good to figure out if anything can be done about the bee buzzing around in the Republicans’ bonnets. In particular, what got them so upset about the proposed train between Madison and Milwaukee?

    The suburbs around Chicago are overwhelmingly Republican, yet Metra service, on several rail lines, enjoys broad support. Rural Illinois is overwhelmingly Republican, and yet Illinois provides financial support to several trains serving these areas.

    Wisconsin is right next door! Madison – state capital, big college town, Wisconsin’s answer to Silicon Valley. Milwaukee – a region of 2 million people. In Illinois, a train between two towns like these – for free! – would have been an easy sell. But it wasn’t in Wisconsin.

    Joe Reply:

    Assholes want to pick a fight over government spending and selected Rail. What can we do to sooth the disagreement? Nothing. Fight for good, popular issues and let the assholes alone.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    This may help answer the question about the fight in Wisconsin, via New Jersey:

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    There are lines that you just know will be black holes for subsidies. This one never seemed like that to me. Other lines might be feast-or-famine: students going on break, or not going on break. Football game on Saturday, or no football game. Or the trains might be empty when they start, and gradually pick up riders closer to the endpoint. This wasn’t like that. There were the overlapping riderships. The U. Wisconsin market (students plus researchers), the people on state business shuttling between Madison and Milwaukee, the whole tech sector that’s grown up around Madison, and folks commuting to work in Milwaukee. Plus people to and from Chicago and the airports. Finally, a big fraction of the riders would be traveling the entire route, from Madison to Milwaukee, or even to Chicago, so empty seats much of the way would be less of a headache. Finally, infrastructure would be new, and there would be no coal trains, so maintenance costs would be low at the outset.

  6. California Taxpayer
    May 8th, 2012 at 19:59

    Shouldn’t california create an infrastructure bank. Do we have one?

    Also, if we really wanted to go big as a state infrastructure project ( and Im thinking of this because highway 99 has become my own personal hell)

    what they should have done is combine the hsr project with a truck freightway. Create one row that includes both hsr tracks and a single truck expressway lane with passing lanes truck scales etc in each direction. Then ban trucks from 99 and 5, this would give the trucking industry its own un clogged direct access to the same cities. Itw ould get support from drivers… who hate trucks, from truckers, who hate drivers, and from hsr supporters.

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    meanwhile, I can’t help but notice, as Ive had to start using an inhaler, that the valley is not showing any signs of doing anything but 80s style tract home growth. This type of development continues with another 20+ new communities just in the frenso area alone,

    (of course when you see what you get for the price you may all move out here….)

    I just hope they complete the 65 route and keep the trucks off.

    Matthew Reply:

    I can’t wait to move out here:

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    these areas are growing together in exactly the same way that La/Riverside/Orange counties did and will wind up looking exactly like them. Only the air will be even worse.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Our automobile overlords need not concern themselves with what mere organic lifeforms breathe.

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    the worst part (asthma aside) is that the view of the southern sierra backbone – a stunning 10,000 ft high wall of granite, is rarely visible at all from places such as visalia, just a few miles away.

    California Taxpayer Reply:


    joe Reply:

    Cars on a per vehicle basis are pretty clean. So are most point source polluters like power plants. The easy stuff is done so fewer cars is one option – Rail can help.

    In the CV, The EPA is also looking to reduce “tall pole” pollution sources like retire old diesel motors in ag machinery with new equipment and regulate Ag practices that degrade air quality (or time them so they don’t co-occur).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Rail, local buses, complete streets, zoning reform, parking reform, energy conservation, rooftop solar panels, no new freeways, redevelopment of parking lots. All of those are necessary, all at the same time.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Did you exclude the Hanford area because of the anti-growth policies there?

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    I have a feeling the ag land around hanford will be less likely to fall to developers than the land east of the 99. the majority of growth will be east of 99 and in the foothills.

    datacruncher Reply:

    There are signs of potentially changing development patterns. Downtown Fresno in the last 5 or 6 years has seen roughly 500 new apartments/lofts built renting for about $1,000/mo in spite of the housing bust and the downtown areas’ reputation.

    More downtown Fresno projects with another 100 or so units could start construction near the end of the year.

    Ultimately its about demand and many Californians (not just Valley residents) still want the tract home with a yard.

  7. joe
    May 9th, 2012 at 09:22

    I have no hope for a reasonable accommodation with PAMPA NIMBYs – this is an example:

    Filmmaker George Lucas is pushing forward with plans to build low-income housing at Marin County’s picturesque Grady Ranch, a vow of his that was widely dismissed as an insincere attempt by the billionaire to thumb his nose at complaining neighbors.

    Several Lucas Valley Estates homeowners had, in fact, said that they considered the historic Lucas-owned farmland their back yards. They claimed the proposed 263,701-square-foot digital technology production complex was too large, would displace too much dirt, would change the course of a creek going through the area, create too much traffic and hadn’t been studied enough.


    Despite striking a deal to keep the Empire out of cloud city forever (a.k.a. unanimous approval from Marin County’s Planning Commission) and Lucas’s promise to devote 95 percent of the acreage to conservation, the nearby Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association opposed the project. Members of the association feared the venture would bring additional traffic into the well-heeled residential area and the years of construction required could harm the area’s natural environment.
    The reaction from many Marin residents was similarly strong. One member of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association’s board claims have to received death threats, and the group’s Facebook page is packed with angry comments calling the organization, among other epithets, “a bunch of NIMBY morons.”

    Liz Dale, president of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association, said she was surprised by the decision [to abandon the project].

    The NIMBYs were surprised Lucas abandoned the project.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A developer is someone who wants to build a cabin in the woods. A conservationist is someone who has a cabin in the woods.

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