HSR Is An Entirely Appropriate Use of Cap-and-Trade Revenues

Jan 9th, 2014 | Posted by

UPDATE: California EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez tells Capitol Radio that using cap-and-trade funds for HSR “is appropriate. Need long-term greenhouse gas reductions, beyond 2020 goal.” Original post begins here:

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to use $250 million out of $1.3 billion in cap-and-trade revenues (that’s 19%) for high speed rail is generating controversy. Very depressing controversy. That’s because some environmentalists are recklessly attacking the proposal because it doesn’t go toward meeting the 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goal. This is unusually bad politics and messaging for environmentalists, as they are now arguing against investments in long-term carbon emission reductions. The right and the climate deniers are going to have a field day with this.

One of the keys to this odd argument is the claim that cap-and-trade revenues are supposed to be used only to meet the 2020 goals. Problem is, that claim is entirely without evidence and is contrary to the truth – that they’re to be used to get to the 2020 goals as part of a plan for long-term reductions that go to at least 2050.

That claim first appeared in 2012 from the Legislative Analysts Office, an office with a notorious record of presenting deeply flawed information designed to undermine the HSR project. Here’s what the LAO said in April 2012:

Would Not Help Achieve AB 32’s Primary Goal. The primary goal of AB 32 is to reduce California’s GHG emissions statewide to 1990 levels by 2020. Under the revised draft business plan, the IOS would not be completed until 2021 and Phase 1 Blended would not be completed until 2028. Thus, while the high–speed rail project could eventually help reduce GHG emissions somewhat in the very long run, given the project’s timeline, it would not help achieve AB 32’s primary goal of reducing GHG emissions by 2020. As a result, there could be serious legal concerns regarding this potential use of cap–and–trade revenues. It would be important for the Legislature to seek the advice of Legislative Counsel and consider any potential legal risks.

Notice the weasel words used by the LAO. “The primary goal of AB 32” but not its only goal. There “could be” serious legal concerns. There are “potential” legal risks.

As we will see, the LAO was just making all this up. There’s nothing that I can find at all in the laws or the adopted cap-and-trade plans and regulations that limits the revenues to projects that reduce carbon emissions before 2020. In fact, what we find is the contrary: a long trail dating back to 2005 of an emphasis on long-term, permanent greenhouse gas emission reductions, and a trail dating back to 2008 of high speed rail being a part of those plans, including cap-and-trade revenues.

The point is that Governor Jerry Brown is on solid ground in proposing that 19% of cap-and-trade funds be used for high speed rail. Let’s show how we reached that conclusion.

The first piece of evidence comes from June 2005. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-03-05 regarding climate change. Here’s the targets Governor Schwarzenegger set out in that order:

1. That the following greenhouse gas emission reduction targets are hereby established for California: by 2010, reduce GHG emissions to 2000 levels; by 2020, reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels; by 2050, reduce GHG emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels

This is important because it establishes that from the very start, California GHG reduction policy has been oriented toward a long-term and lasting reduction, not simply to reaching a certain level of reductions in 2020, declaring victory, and going home.

In 2012 Governor Brown reiterated this long-term goal and added to it a specific reduction target for transportation. This was done in Executive Order B-16-2012:

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that California target for 2050 a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector equaling 80 percent less than 1990 levels.

In order to reach that target, high speed rail and its 10 million metric tons of CO2 reductions will certainly be required.

In 2006, the state legislature passed and Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, the state’s landmark global warming law. It includes a goal of reducing CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. But that wasn’t its only goal. The point was to use the 2020 goal as a kickstarter to get the state to commit to lasting, permanent reductions:

It is the intent of the Legislature that the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit continue in existence and be used to maintain and continue reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases beyond 2020.

The Legislature followed through on that intent by directing the California Air Resources Board to prepare a scoping plan that shows not only how the 2020 goal will be met, but how that reduction will be maintained beyond 2020.

Sure enough, in the summer of 2008 CARB developed and later adopted its scoping plan which includes high speed rail as one of its tools to achieve the lasting reductions required by AB 32.

From there CARB began developing its cap-and-trade plan. Nowhere in that plan is it said that its sole purpose is to achieve the 2020 goals and nothing else. The 2020 goals are surely their main focus, but not the sole focus, and the cap-and-trade plans were never intended to exclude long-term carbon emissions reductions. After all, the executive orders and the text of AB 32 were quite clear that the entire point of the exercise was to achieve lasting reductions.

In 2012 the state legislature passed a few bills relating to the use of cap-and-trade revenues, primarily AB 1532. This bill would govern how the funds in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund would be used, directing the Department of Finance to develop a 3-year investment plan. Nowhere in this bill are the funds restricted solely to those things that would achieve CO2 reductions by 2020 – because again, the point of AB 32 and cap-and-trade is to make those reductions lasting.

Here is what AB 1532 does say about the funds:

(b) Moneys shall be used to facilitate the achievement of reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in this state consistent with this division and, where applicable and to the extent feasible:
(1) Maximize economic, environmental, and public health benefits to the state.
(2) Foster job creation by promoting in-state greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects carried out by California workers and businesses.
(3) Complement efforts to improve air quality.
(4) Direct investment toward the most disadvantaged communities and households in the state.
(5) Provide opportunities for businesses, public agencies, nonprofits, and other community institutions to participate in and benefit from statewide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
(6) Lessen the impacts and effects of climate change on the state’s communities, economy, and environment.

(c) Moneys appropriated from the fund may be allocated, consistent with subdivision (a), for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this state through investments that may include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
(1) Funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy generation, distributed renewable energy generation, transmission and storage, and other related actions, including, but not limited to, at public universities, state and local public buildings, and industrial and manufacturing facilities.
(2) Funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the development of state‑of‑the‑art systems to move goods and freight, advanced technology vehicles and vehicle infrastructure, advanced biofuels, and low‑carbon and efficient public transportation.
(3) Funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with water use and supply, land and natural resource conservation and management, forestry, and sustainable agriculture.
(4) Funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through strategic planning and development of sustainable infrastructure projects, including, but not limited to, transportation and housing.
(5) Funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased in-state diversion of municipal solid waste from disposal through waste reduction, diversion, and reuse.
(6) Funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through investments in programs implemented by local and regional agencies, local and regional collaboratives, and nonprofit organizations coordinating with local governments.
(7) Funding in research, development, and deployment of innovative technologies, measures, and practices related to programs and projects funded pursuant to this part.

High speed rail clearly fits these guidelines.

Sure enough, when CARB released its final investment plan for the cap-and-trade funds in May 2013, it mentioned high speed rail as part of the ongoing, long-term GHG reduction efforts – especially since the state is on target to reach the 2020 goals already:

Full implementation of existing State strategies will achieve the 2020 reduction target. However, extensive additional strategies are needed both to ensure ongoing maintenance of the 2020 limit – as population and related growth increase after 2020 – and to meet post-2020 goals.

Reaching the 2050 goal (80 percent below 1990 levels) will require far-reaching new approaches to how we plan our communities, how we move people and freight, how we power our State, how industries produce their products, how successful we are in treating waste as a source of energy, and how well we preserve California’s lands and natural resources that sequester carbon.

CARB then goes on to list high speed rail as one of the strategies that will achieve those lasting reductions.

As a result, on page 25 of the final investment plan, high speed rail is explicitly listed as an investment priority.

That ought to be game, set, and match, but one more citation is worth briefly mentioning. CARB is currently updating its scoping plan to focus on the post-2020 reductions because, in their words, California is on target for meeting the 2020 GHG emission reduction goal and it’s time to look toward the more ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.

So the LAO’s concern trolling from 2012 that I cited to open this post is not at all supported by any shred of evidence, and is in fact fundamentally contradicted by the relevant laws, executive orders, scoping plans, and investment plans that govern AB 32 and cap-and-trade. We can dispense with their argument here and now.

Sadly, environmentalists are still making an issue of this. Governor Brown is proposing to spend just 19% of cap-and-trade revenues on HSR. I’d spend more, but hey, that leaves 81% of the revenues for other projects.

High speed rail is an essential piece of California’s carbon emissions reduction strategy. It is under attack from Tea Party Republicans, funded by oil money and climate deniers, who are adamantly opposed to doing anything to help reduce carbon emissions. HSR’s perceived problems all stem from that Tea Party attack.

So why on earth would environmentalists help their enemies attack a major method of reducing carbon emissions? Why would they hand the right and climate deniers a new line of attack, that it’s somehow inappropriate to use cap-and-trade funds for anything that lasts beyond 2020 when the entire point of AB 32 and cap-and-trade is to achieve long-term reductions?

I am truly stunned at this. California environmentalists should be smarter than this. They need to abandon these claims that it’s somehow wrong for cap-and-trade funds to be used on HSR. And Governor Jerry Brown needs to stick to his guns on this, because he is absolutely right.

Let us hope that sanity, reason, evidence, and a commitment to permanent reduction of carbon emissions prevail.

  1. Paul Druce
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 10:09

    Why would they hand the right and climate deniers a new line of attack, that it’s somehow inappropriate to use cap-and-trade funds for anything that lasts beyond 2020 when the entire point of AB 32 and cap-and-trade is to achieve long-term reductions?

    Nobody is complaining about it lasting beyond 2020. What they’re complaining about is that it doesn’t have any effect before 2020, which is the legal mandate. And I will continue to emphasize that emissions reduction via HSR is entirely dependent upon the emissions of the travel modes that it replaces, that induced travel leads to increased emissions, and that the success of other AB32 goals, such as the electrification of California vehicles, necessarily reduces the potential emissions reductions of HSR. For these reasons, it cannot be considered a major method of reducing carbon emissions.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    You didn’t read my post then, Paul, because you are simply wrong – there is NO legal mandate that cap-and-trade funds “have any effect before 2020.” That’s what I wrote this post to debunk.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Cool. So it’s just another multi million dollar slush fund that can be used arbitrarily, lavished around at executive whim to reward and punish, and, as usual when wasting billions of dollars on ineffective or actively counter-productive programs is concerned, you’re just fine with that, as long as CHOO CHOO!

    Coping with the planet in 2050 will be Somebody Else’s Problem, after all.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I don’t see it as such a boondoggle. There are ways (nuclear and other) of generating electricity that produce much less CO2 than fossil fuel fired plants. And electric-powered railways, both passenger and freight, are common in other countries. Beginning the switch will produce zero reduction of CO2 in 2020. Building a reactor takes almost as much time as building a high speed rail line. But by 2050 the cumulative CO2 reduction will be very large. At least in rail transportation, the goal of an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 seems achievable, using existing technology.

    The quick-return steps, like new light bulbs, are good. But together, they only take us so far. Moving energy-hungry processes off of fossil fuels, something much more costly and time consuming, is just as important.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Order of magnitude check on aisle three!

    Reducing rail (which would mean freight rail — another two order of magnitude problem, oops!) carbon intensity by 80% by 2050 seems … well, apart from being, you know, outright impossibletotally beside the point. Rounding error territory.

    Really, throwing money at concrete viaducts in Fresno and Bakersfield has to be about the least cost effective means of accomplishing anything at all, other than making the concrete viaduct people happy as clams.

    VBobier Reply:

    You sound like you favor short term gains over long term gains in smog reduction which HSR will accomplish, electric cars are a boondoggle cause they are a short term fix that is not guaranteed and that will go away, since electric cars don’t last very long and AB32 funding won’t be around after 2020 to buy or even to help buy more new ones, right now the least expensive rich mans toy is a $70,000.00 Tesla and heaven forbid if the batteries go boom!!!

    Richard Mlynarik and Paul Druce you may as be Republicans instead of blue DOGS, as that’s who seems to be holding your leash…

    Joey Reply:

    If your goal is to reduce emissions, the best way is to reduce the number of short distance car trips. This can be done by investing in local and regional mass transit as well as pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

    Derek Reply:

    Even cheaper would be to prohibit cities from setting parking minimums. If they want to prevent parking shortages, there are better ways.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, and eliminating the bogus goals of “easing congestion” and “reducing emissions” as justification for expanding highways.

    Derek Reply:

    There are ways to achieve the same congestion and emissions reduction goals that are much more cost effective than expanding highways. Those strategies should be exhausted before moving on to the less cost effective ones.

    joe Reply:

    What matters are AB32’s goals.

    If your goal is to reduce emissions then the best way to reduce emissions is to cut all climate research spending and invest that money in reducing the number of short distance car trips.

    Joey Reply:

    I was talking about transportation specifically. Of course that’s not the only sector in which emissions occur.

    joe Reply:

    AB32’s goals are all that matter to me.

    Joey Reply:

    And is the goal of AB32 to reduce emissions or get HSR built? The ladder is not invalid, but I think we need to be honest with ourselves about it.

    joe Reply:

    Honestly, infrastructure for end to end trips in CA, local and regional, without a car and without using carbon fuels. It’s just catching up to what the rest of the world offers, nothing novel at all.

    VBobier Reply:

    CARB knows what they’re doing and HSR does the best when it comes to reduction or CARB would not have included HSR in their goals, AB32 is about long term, not short term gains in air pollution reduction, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is nice, but not many places can do that and/or most people will be taking light rail already so both are duplicative in nature…

    Joey Reply:

    Have you actually looked at our transportation network and transit mode share numbers? You really think there’s nothing to be done to reduce short-distance car trips?

    VBobier Reply:

    Which is not intercity, where HSR is aimed at, where current networks are all local… HSR rules intercity, there is enough Cap and Trade for everyone and HSR is worthy, the LAO is just spouting biased bagger garbage…

    Joey Reply:

    I don’t really care about what the LAO has to say. I’m saying that on a dollar-for-dollar basis, more emissions reduction can be achieved by diverting local and regional trips. If your only goal is emissions reduction, HSR isn’t a very good use of funds. Of course, there are plenty of other good reasons to build HSR other than emissions reduction.

    VBobier Reply:

    I don’t care what the LAO says either(what do you know, we agree on something), I care about what CARB says, they in California are the experts on Smog, the LAO can go to blazes on this.

    It’s like you think intercity doesn’t matter, local is taking care of itself just fine, it’s intercity that has been neglected…

    VBobier Reply:

    CARB(the California Air Resources Board)…

    VBobier Reply:

    Then there is this article on Green is good, as Governor Brown’s budget proposal boosts money for environment issues

    But the hot button environmental issue is what happens with $850 million of revenue from carbon credits businesses buy as permission to pollute greenhouse gases into the air – under law, that money’s supposed to go to projects that combat global warming.

    Brown says $300 million of those proceeds will go to the state’s controversial high-speed rail project, and to the Department of Transportation.

    “And using the money from cap and trade which is the result of deterring greenhouse gases is very appropriate,” Brown said, at a press conference Thursday.

    Legal challenges have tied up billions of dollars in bond money that’s the foundation for high-speed rail. The project’s detractors call it a bloated boondoggle, and suggest that money is better spent elsewhere. Brown disagrees.

    “Well, the alternative would be not to spend the money. And we do need that money,” said Brown. “And we’re going to spend it.”

    jimsf Reply:

    thats true… is it inetercity that is behind. most communites large and small already have their own transit services tailored to their individual needs.

    If you want to just get from la to sf or san diego, its easy enough to fly. thats not the problem. Its all the intermediate points which are only connected by roads with no option.

    If you want to get from sf or la to an intermediate point. A long slow slog in a car is your only real choice. And if you want to get from one intermediate point to another. That too is a long slow slog in a car.

    Thats where hsr comes in. fast electric service not only between end points, but more importanly – to intermediate city pairs.

    this is first and foremost, a system designed to give californians fast modern mobility to as many regions as possible.

    after that, its all the other things they claim. But first its a nice thing to have and californians like nice things and californians will generally agree to pay for nice things.

    Thats why they voted for it. Not because it reduces co2.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed jimsf, but it doesn’t hurt as a byproduct that HSR can reduce co2.

    VBobier Reply:

    HSR = Intercity

    Cap and Trade funds are to be used for long term reductions, not short term reductions, so HSR qualifies, local and mass transit already has what they need, they just need money sooner than later and that still doesn’t require Cap and Trade funds, as LA County has not asked for any, nor does it need those funds, since LA has it’s own funding in place(Measure R).

    Reducing car trips as you say by investing in local and regional mass transit as well as pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is already being done, LA County is far ahead of everyone else, the blue line is getting an overhaul to bring it up to date and all without Cap and Trade funds.

    You just don’t want or like HSR, cause you probably won’t be around and want no money going to something you can’t use, well other people live in this state and they need to get around, interstates are very expensive to build, are inefficient, can’t match HSR or even normal rail transport for volume passenger capacity and land isn’t cheap, in the US only Hawaii makes more land(at least for the moment), plus there is a population that lives here in California, is growing and that isn’t going away, some people just ought to accept that fact and move on.

    Instead of whining and trying to drum up support for a non-existent revote or to move HSR tracks to avoid the CV cities and to move HSR away from rich neighborhood snobs to make a cheaper version of HSR that they can point to and say that HSR doesn’t do this or that, as HSR simply is going to happen, just as the interstates happened… As that is the Republican line, of waste and fraud, with no smoking gun, just a lot of groundless accusations, defamatory lies and some here are guilty of just that, lying…

    Most have never been on or near HSR and do not know of what they are talking about, yet spout stuff as if they did, three of My relatives have ridden on HSR in Europe and they still like HSR and the ones who don’t, want to equate HSR with noisy freight railroads, I’ve heard HSR on youtube and it simply isn’t that objectionable, nor is HSR something that won’t be ridden, riders from Amtrak California will be riding on HSR and people do ride trains and in increasing numbers, heading back to levels not seen in decades, as this country hasn’t lost it’s love for trains, at one time trains went nearly everywhere in the US on land, especially before the 1960’s…

    I’m sick and tired of ‘know nothings’, I thought they had died out in the late 19th century, along with the horse and buggy, I see that I was wrong.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Don’t give them ideas, Richard.

    Next thing you know, the Department of Finance will mysteriously collect all road tolls in the state that aren’t bridges to support HSR. A clandestine fee will appear on air travel tickets between SF and LA. And then they will tax you just to have health insurance! I mean when you believe in conspiracies the limits are endless.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    On or before January 1, 2009, the state board shall prepare and approve a scoping plan, as that term is understood by the state board, for achieving the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from sources or categories of sources of greenhouse gases by 2020 under this division.

    Health and Safety Code (HSC) §38561

    Executive orders are not the law except and unless the Legislature has specifically delegated the authority to the Governor, which they did not do so to my knowledge.

    As a complete aside, the increase in natural gas consumption to compensate for the closing of San Onofre appears to be responsible for 10 million metric tons of additional CO2 a year.

    StevieB Reply:

    A plan was approved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. All you need to do now is a citation that cap and trade funding must have and effect before 2020 to prove your point.

    VBobier Reply:

    All I see from Paul Druce is crickets

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I cited numerous parts of AB 32 that show the legislature wanted a long term carbon reduction plan, including in the scoping plan, and the scoping plan and investment plan have all had a long-term focus as well as 2020. The idea that the legislature wanted CARB to quit its efforts after 2020 is completely absurd.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Nobody is suggesting that the efforts be quit after 2020.

    joe Reply:

    What they’re complaining about is that it doesn’t have any effect before 2020, which is the legal mandate.

    Is this true?

    The 2013 Discussion Scoping Plan Has a Table Of Contents. Section V is 30 pages out of the 110 page document and it discusses post 2020 (i.e. 2030, 2050).

    Is it really mandated to invest in GHG emissions for 2020 given the Introduction describes the 2050 target, that one of the three main questions the Plan addresses is reducing post 2020 emissions and Section V discusses AB32 after 2020?

    Elizabeth Reply:


    There is a critical difference between what is legal for the “scoping plan” and what is legal for spending cap and trade money.

    The scoping plan is an overall, general plan including regulation, cap and trade and everything else that will get to overall goal.

    AB 32 does not actually talk directly about proceeds from cap and trade auctions – and there was even a legal question (just resolved in November) about whether the state could keep all the money.

    In that case, another issue was raised about whether these monies are a tax or a fee. The judge ruled that it was a fee – assuming certain criteria were met.

    One of the criteria was that, beyond admin costs, the money can’t just be spent on any random project which made the scoping plan, as it is possible to spin a story for almost anything that it somehow helps with carbon.

    The judge made it very clear that any funded projects will have to be legit ways of achieving the AB 32 goal. The legal standard will be much higher than that for the general scoping plan. In addition, because of the 2010 ballot measure that makes fees harder to implement, probably none of the 2012 bills that have tried to broaden the uses of funds will really hold water.

    Contrary to the noise about 2050, there is only one limit and goal – and that is 2020.

    If the legislature had wanted to also set the 80% reduction goal as a limit, they would have included this in ab 32, which came after Scharz’s EO.

    HSR, which a report last summer, that acknowledged that it will increase emissions through 2022 (or whenever it starts operating).

    I am sure the Chamber of Commerce would love to see Brown put this in the budget – they will be back in court, which could threaten the whole scheme.

    Here is the opinion

    joe Reply:

    You know …. Climate science researchers emit more CO2 going to conferences arguing and then running various models to prove points and use large, energy inefficient super computers than if they didn’t and had no funding. It’s clearly not allowed in AB32 or carbon neutral and not good for the environment. Cut the budgets to 0% and buy CFCs for the poor – that’s a measurable result and better thing to do. It helps the poor and we are not that sure about warming being fomr oeople anyway so let’s use that R&D money for a tax cut.

    HSR is not some random project – only in CA would the project be called a Carbon emitter and fought to deny it cap and trade funds.

    I love that new HW101 and extra lane and use it in my sedan. Took it to Town and County and had a nice coffee this Friday. We’re hardwired to build roads with concrete and repave them endlessly – cars chew them up and we rebuild them without one a peep. It’s far easier to drive to the heart of your city than it is to take Caltrain from Gilroy. That’s gotten even more lopsided in favor of driving with the expansion.

    joe Reply:

    If we all had electric cars ,which is really cool under AB32 I understand, then there’s no worries about traffic or cars choking the streets. That’s still an unsafe place for kids and still a blight on streets to have electric cars zipping about, or sitting at lights, but you know it’s all okay under AB32.

    Electric HSR is a emitter but electric cars on cement and paved roads is somehow a green solution into 2050 when roads nee dot be replaced and we have 50+M citizens.

    VBobier Reply:

    And who is going to pay for electric cars for those who can’t pay and need a car? I get SSI since I’m disabled, not everyone has a large income, in 2014 I’ll be getting a grand total of $10,528.80, I’m lucky I have a car, I’d love to be able to save up more than $2,000.00 legally($3,000.00 for a couple) and not risk losing My only income(HR1601 proposes to increase this limit to $10,000.00 for single persons/$15,000.00 for couples), plus I’d love to be able to bury My Mothers ashes, but I can’t buy a burial plot and headstone since that costs more than $1,500.00 now(so technically I can’t die, in theory at least), also I can’t buy any life insurance that costs more than $1,500.00(I’ve never seen a policy that low), both rules have been unchanged since 1972, neither reform is in HR1601(Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2013) that is being held w/o any vote in the House Ways and Means Committee by Rep Dave Camp(the chairman of the committee) who is also holding HR3118(Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013) as both are Social Security related bills.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and 1601 does not do anything for the burial or life insurance problems, it also doesn’t have much support cause of low visibility and the Republican developed Hastert Rule, that says that bills can only be voted on if the Majority of the Majority supports a bill, it’s a rule that is not official, but that baggers support, to keep Repubs in line and to keep bills that are contrary to ideology from being voted on…

    joe Reply:


    StevieB Reply:

    Elizabeth, in the opinion you cited the spending of cap and trade money was not held to a high standard but exactly the opposite. In the section discussing whether the allowance proceeds can be used for”general government purposes”, it says that depends on how one defines “general government purposes.”

    Under the post-AS 32 legislation, the proceeds must be used to further AB 32’s regulatory goal of reducing GHG emissions. However, since nearly every aspect of life has some impact on GHG emissions, it is difficult to conceive of a regulatory activity that will not have at least some impact on GHG emissions.

    The discussion concludes, “Thus, in practice, the allowance proceeds likely can be used for “general government purposes.””

    This sets a very low standard for what proceeds may be allocated to.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok granted. The law wants to reduce CO2 now and after 2020. HSR is not an efficient way of doing that and you linked to the articles asserting that

    David M Reply:

    S-3-05 has already had effect on CEQA case law, see http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3304

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Now about that “CEQA Reform” that we keep hearing about here is so vital …

    Because no “reformers” of “red tape legislation” (those noble reforming souls of the construction industry, along side whom our gracious blog host stands in proud solidarity) would ever “accidentally” throw out, say, CO2 babies along with the choo choo inhibiting bathwater.

    joe Reply:

    The status quo. CA will continue issuing CEQA exceptions for football and basketball areas. Got it.

    Bud Lite for everyone.

  2. Alon Levy
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 10:59

    10 million t-CO2 is 2.2% of California’s annual GHG emissions (link). It shouldn’t get 19% of the C&P funds without a very good reason.

    joe Reply:

    Ratios are not a serious way to address complex, long term reductions in GHG emissions while expanding the economy.

    We should legalize pot and free up slots in jail – spend the $500M on HSR.

    Brown also proposed spending $500 million to build more prisons and local jails, and said he’d ask a panel of federal judges to grant a two-year extension to their deadline for California to reduce its inmate overcrowding.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You call everything you dislike “not serious.” Stop it. It’s like when Derek shuts down and accuses people of being socialists when they say something that’s not in the Econ 101 cliff notes.

    And yeah, the $500 million for jails is of course total bullshit and the reason I didn’t care that Davis was recalled is that he spent so much money on jails that he had to raise UC tuition.

    Derek Reply:

    It’s like when Derek shuts down and accuses people of being socialists when they say something that’s not in the Econ 101 cliff notes.

    Almost everyone’s a socialist whenever it conveniences them. The only people who take offense are those who haven’t yet admitted this fact to themselves. For example, I challenge you to find a conservative who opposes redirecting sales tax money to roads, or one who opposes minimum parking requirements. (Ok, minimum parking requirements are dirigism which is closely associated with fascism, not socialism, but close enough.) Republicans suddenly turn socialist whenever Big Oil is involved.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You forgot the “neener neener.”

    Paul Druce Reply:

    For example, I challenge you to find a conservative who opposes redirecting sales tax money to roads, or one who opposes minimum parking requirements.

    You rang?

    VBobier Reply:

    Hello bagger… :p

  3. synonymouse
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 12:17

    OT but very informative comment on BART’s ongoing serious wheelset issues:


  4. Reedman
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 13:59

    OT —
    Japan maglev proposal for DC/Baltimore.
    Check out the nose on this train!


    Donk Reply:

    I don’t know why people even read articles about mag-lev, unless they are interested in sci-fi. Not gonna happen.

  5. trentbridge
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 15:48

    If you argue that only projects that reduce C02 by 2020 are permissible under AB32 then the state would be required to pursue projects that must be increasingly short-term in order to achieve this requirement. What would qualify in 2018 or 2019?

    IN AB 32 itself:

    “(b)  It is the intent of the Legislature that the statewide
    greenhouse gas emissions limit continue in existence and be used
    to maintain and continue reductions in emissions of greenhouse
    gases beyond 2020.
    (c)  The state board shall make recommendations to the
    Governor and the Legislature on how to continue reductions of
    greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020.

    State Board: “Guv – build CA HSR so we can continue to reduce CO2 after 2020.”

    How is that a problem?

    VBobier Reply:

    I see no problem, neither does CARB and they’re experts, though R.Mlynarik and P.Druce do, both of which are ‘square’ly amateurs, since they sound like blue DOG democrats, they may as well be republicans…

    VBobier Reply:

    CARB(the California Air Resources Board)…

  6. John Nachtigall
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 18:50

    Ok, let’s say you are right. HSR should be judged on its merits as a way of reducing CO2 long term.

    It’s a poor way of reducing CO2. Simply put it is 3-10x less effective than other methods. And this is from your own article and assuming 100% renewable energy which is not even possible at the moment.

    So it takes a long time and it is a lot less effective than other methods

    I think we know why environmentalists don’t like it.

    From the Washington Post article that you linked to originally


    The California High Speed Rail Authority claims that by 2030, if the train ran entirely on renewable energy, then it would start reducing the state’s carbon emissions by about 5.4 million metric tons per year. That would mean the rail network would cut California’s emissions at a cost of around $250 per metric ton of carbon dioxide over the ensuing 50 years, given the current price tag. (And this is an optimistic figure, since it ignores the energy used to build the system — by some estimates, high-speed rail would actually increase emissions in its first few decades.)

    That’s a fairly pricey way to cut carbon. To put this in perspective, research has suggested that you could plant 100 million acres of trees and help reforest the United States for a cost of somewhere between $21 to $91 per ton of carbon dioxide. Alternatively, a study by Dan Kammen of UC Berkeley found that it would cost somewhere between $59 and $87 per ton of carbon dioxide to phase out coal power in the Western United States and replace it with solar, wind and geothermal. If reducing greenhouse gases is your primary goal, then there are more cost-effective ways to do it than building a bullet train.

    Joe Reply:

    Tress grow and die. Unless we start making coal, the carbon sink trees provide is mostly temporary. Most western forests are evolved to burn which released as carbon dioxide monoxide. Many good reasons to plant tress to help the environment just as the benefits of HSR are not measured as a stand alone co2 component.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Who burns wood anymore? The point is there are much more efficient ways of reducing CO2. If AB32 money is supposed to be used to reduce CO2 shouldn’t we use it for the fastest most efficient ways of reducing co2?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    A fairly substantial portion of Germany’s “renewable” energy production is wood actually, though Joe was referring to the need for occasional fires for proper forest ecology function (that’s not a complete burn and release of carbon contrary to his suggestion however). Of course, the proper solution to Joe’s complaint is to point out that it’s quite easy to sequester forest carbon via biochar, lumber, furniture, and other wood products.

    joe Reply:

    A simple exercise for those who think forests sequester carbon permanently is to look at the C in the soil. That’s where C should be, in the soil being buried for millennium. Western soils are pretty lame, not so rich in carbon. What happens is eventually the “fuel” builds up and the fires burn away the litter and deadwood. Rim fire was so hot it burnt the soil.

    Soils are carbon pools like trees they hold carbon. There’s some sequestration but unless it’s a peat bog being buried and turning into coal, it’s probably not a permanent sink.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But in tropical areas the nutrients are not in the soil but in the trees. Overall a forest has more carbon in it than no forest, and this is especially true in low latitudes, where the trees are also lighter in color and increase albedo. (In boreal latitudes, the trees are dark and reduce albedo while treeless ground has high-albedo snow, which makes deforestation and reforestation more or less GHG-neutral.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A fairly substantial portion of Germany’s “renewable” energy production is wood

    [Citation needed]

    I’ve heard this of Sweden and Norway, but not Germany.

    Also, I read, elsewhere, that Germany is one of very few places in the world that don’t naturally have forest fires and that don’t need fire to help their forest ecology. In fact it’s the German-based view of fires that led to the anti-fire ideas of the US, where fires are actually necessary.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    38% according to the Economist

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Doesn’t matter if the CO2 is returned to the atmosphere by someone deliberately burning the wood or if it gets there in a forest fire. Or if it gets there because the tree dies and rots. If you want to use wood as a carbon sink you have to harvest it, stuff the wood into an abandoned mine and then hope that it doesn’t catch fire.

    joe Reply:


    Best biological mechanism to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere is plankton sinking in the ocean depths and forming sediment. Also a good way to produce oxygen.

    Trees help reduce short term and forests reduce carbon but most of our CO2 comes from burning prehistoric carbon from forests and plankton that were sequestered millions of years ago and pressurized into coal gas and oil. How do we put that carbon back?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If I remember correctly there’s a scheme to fertilize the waters surrounding Antarctica do just that. have the plankton die off and settle to the bottom. Again if I remember correctly the limiting nutrient is iron and the amounts needed are small. I suspect it’s harder than it sounds and would wreak havoc on the local ecosystem.

    Maybe this?

    Supposedly it continues to sink additional carbon for centuries if not millennia. Then there’s scheme to just cut down the trees and bury them more or less on site. Takes a long time for trees to rot if they are buried in a big pile. And the schemes to spray things into the upper atmosphere, more or less forever.

    jimsf Reply:

    do you honestly not know that people all over california still burn wood? all up and down the sierra, and all across northern california people are still burning wood. Wood in wood burning fireplaces, old ones and new efficient ones, and in wood stoves, old one and new efficient ones. And people all across northern california still use wood as a primary source of heat.

    do you even live here or what?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Two possibilities here. Either you admit it is a sliver of the population (2.1%)


    or really the first project should for AB32 funds. Should be to convert them to something else


    I think it is the former. Some people may still be using wood, but it is an insignificant portion of population.

    joe Reply:

    Tress cycle carbon from the atmosphere and burning puts it back. It’s a cycle. Trees neither sequesters carbon long term or add new carbon.

    Burning coal or oil or shale or natural gas all add carbon to the atmosphere.

    Wood burning can create air quality issues. Sweden uses wood burning for a fossil fuel, GHG emission mitigation.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    well that is a problem for you. because according to the HSR authority


    the way they are going to balance the impact of construction is to plant trees.

    So, your choice, either the construction of the HSR system is putting them in an enviromental “hole” that will take decades to climb out of because the trees they plan on planting are not a real offset


    tree planting has a real enviromental impact and the money for AB32 can be spent 5X more efficiently just funding that.

    Your choice.

    Joe Reply:

    There is no problem planting trees to balance the emissions from constructing HSR.

    The trees will absorb co2 and when they mature and die, this co2 will be released back – eventually – into the atmosphere. When they do release co2 back, the HSR system will be operating on renewable electric power. We’ll have avoided expanding roads and airports and reduced car dependence.

    Trees stop the temporary co2 spike from construction. Trees keep the project C neutral during the building phase and keep CA in compliance.

    Trees are no substitute.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    by your argument trees only delay (not offset) the construction costs. So how does a delay help, carbon is carbon.

    Joe Reply:

    The temporary sink occurs during the construction emission period.

    The final HSR project is a permenany reduction of Co2 over alternative methods of travel and in place if expanding highways.

    Permenant savings with HSR offset for the construction emissions and the trees mitigate the co2 spike during construction.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re misusing the term “temporary.” The sink is permanent: the carbon is not returned to the atmosphere.

    If what you’re trying to say is “this is a one-time sink rather than a reduction in annual emissions,” then that’s different, sure. But that’s not what you’ve said so far.

    VBobier Reply:

    Trees also help make the transpiration cycle run, where water/co2 goes into the air and eventually back into the trees, a picture of this cycle can be found Here.

    joe Reply:

    Temporary. I’m sorry if there is any confusion but the removal of Co2 to mitigate global warming means you remove it. Trees hold it. That’s why they are called carbon pools.

    I’ve dug soil pits in the western US and Western Canada and drilled soil cores. I’ve written models and papers on the topic. I’ve compared results to field observations.

    The carbon in the soil for a fast growing Canadian jack pine stands in northern forests are mostly sand. Very little carbon. So how is it a long term sink?

    We’re past 400 ppm. It’s time to get serious and while planting trees will offset HSR construction. the benefit is the HSR electric service vs cars and planes and related construction which also pollutes but doesn’t matter to HSR opponents. Only HSR concrete matters,

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, boreal forests kind of suck for this. Tropical ones are better – more carbon in the trees, higher albedo.

    joe Reply:

    More standing biomass but there too the soils (I’ve only been to amazonia) are clay. They are old, nutrient poor and not carbon rich soils. The forest is not accumulating significant amounts of carbon i.e. not a sink. Clay on the surface and clay 10+ meters down.

    StevieB Reply:

    Alon Levy, tropical forests have a low albedo. What is your point?

    Resident Reply:

    John, even worse….did you see Kathy Hamilton’s latest blog? They apparently they have (through public records request) email documentation that says the authority was planning on balancing the impact of construction by purchasing carbon credits! So as a net polluter they are going to be ripping off from the proceeds of the auction? and then turning around and purchasing credits from the auction? And selling the whole half assed scheme to the legislature and the voters as if they are improving the environment? The whole thing is just such a monumental rip off its totally ludicrous.

    And anyway – planting tons of trees in the central valley? Then of course using all the dying trees as evidence to support Jerry Brown’s other multi-billion dollar construction boondoggle (water project)? Cuz otherwise, where are they thinking all the water comes from to water these f’g new trees?

    Joe Reply:

    FAIL If you think tree planting is a scandal.

    Where will we get all that water !! From the rooting zone. These are native species adapted to the climate, not rice paddys.

    Resident Reply:

    tree planting is not a scandal. CHSRA lying about acheiving a net carbon favorable or even a net carbon neutral is a scandal.

    joe Reply:

    Because building a passenger track and using renewable electricity between the CV and LA Basin makes your eyes sting.

    Far better that every one use jet-packs which require no concrete and self-driving cars that run on water and banana peels.

    Resident Reply:

    Im sure that if ‘everyone using jet-packs and self-driving cars’ could be spun in to an excuse for real estate grab and funneling tax payer dollars to developers and unions, that would be in the CHSRA’s plans as well.

    joe Reply:

    Land-grab, taxpayer dollars to Developers and Unions.

    Put Chinatown in that VCR and watch it on more time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Trees are carbon-neutral if there’s no additional growth or decline in tree cover. In fact I’ve read somewhere, I forget where (sorry), that the Little Ice Age was caused by the reforestation of Europe following the Black Death. Possibly the decline in population and wood-burning in China at the Song-Yuan boundary was also responsible.

    (Yes, I know the timeline may not match. I’ve seen some timelines that have the Little Ice Age starting in the 13th century, but also some having it start in the 14th, after the Black Death.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “Tress grow and die. Unless we start making coal, the carbon sink trees provide is mostly temporary.”

    Are you for real?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Unless you stuff them in an abandoned mine or sink them into the Marianas Trench they are going to burn or rot or get eaten by insects and return the carbon to atmosphere.

    Derek Reply:

    Don’t trees that die get replaced by new trees naturally?

    Joe Reply:

    The circle of life…..

    Yes we might establish a standing pool of carbon also known as a forest by turning open land into forest. That’s not an active or a long term sink – not an ongoing and permanent removal of carbon.

    At best, the standing equilibrium forest biomass can be called a sink if we never ever disturb the equilibrium or change the climate. I think that’s cheating given the sources are fossil fuels. It’s a temporary fix to offset a construction project that long term does help reduce co2 emissions.

    The challenges of feeding people and biofuel put additional stress on forests. So does warming which my peers have documented is causing increased fire frequency, pest over wintering survival and lost of forest.

    StevieB Reply:

    Trees perform the following conversion: carbon dioxide + water + light energy → carbohydrate + oxygen. The removal of the most forests in the United States has increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    Joe Reply:

    In the 1800s.

    We are seeing afforestation in the eastern USA as farming moved to the fertile Great Plains snd to irrigation.

    The Great Plains was thought to be a desert since European thought was farmland had to be cleared of trees. No trees meant the land was considered useless. When they figured out the plains was productive, swaths of farmland back east were gradually abandoned.

    StevieB Reply:

    Half of the forest cover of the east coast was lost before 1900. The hundreds of millions of acres of trees lost are not being replaced at a considerable rate. This limits the ability to remove carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That carbon stays in the biosphere. Rot isn’t a magical force. It moves carbon from dead organic matter to the organisms that decompose it. The major natural mechanism that moves carbon from biomass to the atmosphere is respiration, but it is in balance with the removal of carbon from the atmosphere by photosynthesis; the net contribution to atmospheric carbon is zero. Fire does indeed remove carbon from the biosphere, but it doesn’t destroy forests, it just thins them and allows regrowth.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s not meant to replace your trip to the corner store or your trip across time zones. It’s the most effective way to curb CO2 emissions for the trips it does serve.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And here I thought they wanted the most CO2 reduction period. If you believe it is a global crisis then you need big changes fast, not small changes slow.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They aren’t proposing the train for the the sheer joy of it. People will be traveling between the cities in California in 2020, 2030, 2050 and beyond. HSR is the low carbon way to do that.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You seem to be sidestepping the obvious fact that HSR construction necessitates building a larger electrical grid for the State that could be used to help wean other polluters off energy that is less than clean.

    In fact, you (and the Sierra Club) seem to miss the fact that CAHSR could bolster electric car sales by offering AutoTrain like services that would recharge your vehicle as it traveled with you from Northern to Southern California.

    Travis Reply:

    Also, high-speed rail service would make it more likely that people will accept significant range limitations on their personally-owned vehicles.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The range argument is really a proxy for the fact that suburban car owners can stack a lot of miles on going back and forth to work. The consumer only cares if it has to charge once a day or once a week. The former is a range of maybe 60 miles, the later at least 250. Thus HSR isn’t likely to solve that problem for electric cars.

    Chris J. Reply:

    Ok let’s say you’re right. Transportation should be judged by all means of transportation: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (yes that was a good movie and no that is not supposed to be a complete list but I digress).

    It’s a poor way of doing nothing to alleviate carbon factors if the HRT is not built. How many billions will need to spent on highways, airports etc. and what will be their energy costs??? Will airplanes be running on nuclear or battery power anytime soon? How many communities are going to fight tooth and claw to stop new construction. Santa Monica residents want their airport shut down over pollution (among other factors).

    Environmentalists opposed to this are not looking at the long term gain

    By the way, your link is not working……

    How much energy is it going to take to build the additional highways, airports, infrastructure to move the people of California around.

    I don’t think less of you for proposing to reforest the United States, but is that even a serious idea????

    Speaking of “ideas”, the HSR is more than that, despite a study by Dan Kammen, who I am sure does great research but he probably was not trying pick sides in this debate.

    Will it more expensive to do this now or wait.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    If it’s low-hanging fruit you’re talking about, you’re probably right. There are cheaper ways to reduce CO2 emissions at the outset.
    The problem is that in a decade or so, humanity will have burned enough fossil fuel, and produced enough CO2, to warm the Earth by 2 degrees C, on average, for at least the next few centuries. We can go completely cold turkey, and the Earth will remain at that elevated temperature. Burning even more carbon will make things even worse, again for centuries. In the lives of most young people, we’ll have to completely stop turning fossil carbon into CO2, if we want the planet to be habitable. That means making the hard, expensive reductions, as well as the easy ones.
    No doubt, high speed rail, and electrified rail generally, will be one of the hard, expensive reductions. The good thing is that the technology is proven every day in other countries. It’s one part of the future that works.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So when they have worked through all the low hanging fruit they can get to HSR. If you truly belive it is a global threat I would think you would want to support the quickest and most effective way of reducing carbon. That is not HSR

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Certainly the cap and trade process is meant to get low hanging fruit, and then gradually move higher up the tree. The trading process drives this, and the action is largely in the private sector. This is a good thing.
    As far as what the state does with the revenues, it’s not obvious to me that low-hanging fruit is the objective. I would think getting infrastructure in shape for a near zero fossil fuel economy in 2050 or thereabouts would be more appropriate. Money spent on research and development of new technology would also be more appropriate. Maybe preparing California’s water system for a day when there is much less snow pack, and much hotter summer weather, would be appropriate. These would be longer-term projects. Anyway, it’s a good topic for discussion.

    jimsf Reply:

    The problem with your transparently disengenuous expression of concern is that in this case co2 reduction is not THE reason for building HSR. There are other more important reasons. co2 reduction just happens to be a legitimate benefit.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    But it is THE REASON to spen AB32 funds. So why should we spend AB32 funds when there are other better projects than HSR?

    Donk Reply:

    I don’t understand how anyone can argue John’s point here. Clearly there are better ways to reduce emissions than with HSR. Just admit it, y’all just want to find a source of funding to get HSR going and will make up an excuse if you have to. I’ll admit it – I am one of those people. I am a HSR supporter, and am happy to get funds from whatever source there is since I know it is a good investment for the future. I am happy to steal from cap & trade or anywhere else, but come on you have to admit they are pulling a fast one.

    What I am not proud of is that the funds are going down the shitter since they are going to blow a big chunk on Palmdale, San Jose, Millbrae, and other waste.

    Joe Reply:

    Not better ways to reduce co2 within the scope of the AB32 long term objectives.

    If 2050 CA doesn’t have electric HSR then we’re not going to meet the emission targets. We’ll lack a rail connection between the Central Valley and LA basin until one is built.

    Travis Reply:

    Because HSR is an important project that needs to be built more than some of those allegedly-“better” projects.

  7. StevieB
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 19:15

    Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar had this response, “His High Speed Rail proposal is a non-starter. Even if his idea to take money from the Cap & Trade fund is legal – which we don’t believe it is -businesses throughout the state will be forced to pay for it. That means higher gas costs and fewer jobs for middle class families.”

    Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/#storylink=cpy

    Chris J. Reply:


    How does gas costs and fewer jobs get involved. Typical demagogue.

    Travis Reply:

    Good thing Republicans in the California Senate are completely powerless, and his argument is just another anti-tax argument that could be used against *anything* that Cap and Trade money would be spent on.

    Derek Reply:

    Huff has it wrong. California gets about 2/3 of its oil from other states and countries. By discouraging spending on oil, Cap and Trade will keep more money in the state.

  8. Emmanuel
    Jan 9th, 2014 at 21:43

    Is that $250 million per year or?

    joe Reply:

    I was wondering too and read tonight it’s $250 M per year. A dedicated funding source.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The budget proposal says “Proposed legislation establishes an ongoing state commitment of Cap and Trade proceeds to high-speed rail, which will facilitate future phases of the initial operating segment.” but it does not indicate the actual future dollar amounts that the legislation will propose. Quote from page 100 of the budget proposal at:

    VBobier Reply:

    The $250 Million is just for this year, next year the amount will be higher, since there are four auctions a year, in 2013 they had one auction since it was the 1st one to be done, there will be 4 auctions a year until sometime in 2020, the amount will be bigger, but how much? That even I can’t answer.

  9. Nadia
    Jan 10th, 2014 at 06:55

    This thread reminded me of a video from an LAO presentation back in 2012 where Tiffany Roberts talks about the issue of Cap and Trade (5 min) – note, although she keeps her calm Southern demeanor, it is clear she gets quite annoyed at one point when she doesn’t think the HSR reps in the chamber are listening to her….:


    She discusses how HSR
    1) doesn’t do anything before 2020 to reduce GhG AND
    2) HSR would be net emitter of GhG for many years based on their own numbers….(there is a whole description of how CAHSR have old analysis on this issue and at that time had NOT put out new numbers – note I don’t remember if they ever updated those… if they did and someone has a link – please share)

    Eric M Reply:

    Part of the anti-HSR Simitian propoganda hearing. Nice

    Brian Reply:

    Right on the website: http://hsr.ca.gov/Programs/Green_Practices/index.html
    The first item on the bottom is the policy. The second is the updated GHG reductions report from July 1, 2013.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    its very pretty…you know what it is missing??? Actual number on the projected decrease.

    So they guarentee a decrease, but dont give the numbers. Shocked Face.

    And they way they offset the construction costs…tree planting, which AB32 could do directly without funding HSR Double Shocked Face.

    i think my case just got stronger, not weaker

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Back in the 80s the Saint Ronnie told us all that cutting taxes on rich people would encourage them to all go out and invest the money in productive enterprises that created jobs which would then make us all rich. And we were told the same thing in the 90s and the Augths and are still being told that now. I wanna see numbers on how that is working out. If it was working we all should be filthy rich by now and there would be labor shortages.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    so you think Regan lied to you in the 1980s so it is ok for HSR to lie about offsetting CO2 offsets now.

    That makes total sense

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I think you are forgetting that especially at the bookends, HSR construction will improve other transit services. The lawsuit is going to limit what can get spent outside the ICS but preserve the major construction while the cap and trade cash can be used in the bookends to make incremental improvements.

    Electrification of CalTrain will figure prominently as will more Amtrak California service and the like. This is Brown offering a carrot, not a stick.

    VBobier Reply:

    Trickle Down is a Con Job, a LIE, so the rich can get richer and everyone else gets poorer and as a result the economy recovers very slowly from a recession/depression as most people have only so much money, while the rich are hoarding most of the money and they have paid Repubs very handsomely in campaign donations to make and keep it that way.

    Brian Reply:

    John, the numbers on the pages 6, 10, 11 and elsewhere. Did you not read the actual report?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Those are estimats of how much they save after construction. I was referring to the lack of numbers about how much it will cost and how much CO2 they will have to offset for construction. That defines the “hole” they start in. How can they guarantee to keep neutral if they can’t estimate the necessary offset.

    On a seperate note I think assuming you can run on 100% renewable electricity is a little optomistic.

    VBobier Reply:

    Of course until a contract is written and signed, an estimate is still an estimate, only a contract is not an estimate.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And they have neither a contract or an estimate

    VBobier Reply:

    Yes the CHSRA does have a Contract for the Madera(Merced) to Fresno segment… As reported by the Contra Costa Times

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I was speaking of the whole IOS but we can play it your way.

    Where is the estimate of the offset for Merced to Fresno then? Nowhere!

    datacruncher Reply:

    That sounds like an environmental impact so its probably somewhere in the EIR/EIS documents.

    My guess is that is in the “Merced to Fresno Section Air Quality Technical Report” from 2012.

    Yep look like this includes construction impact numbers for everyone to argue.

  10. Kenny
    Jan 10th, 2014 at 09:44

    Please don’t say “environmentalists” are opposing the use of cap-and-trade funds for HSR. I see this sort of framing in the LA Times all the time, when they say “environmentalists” oppose solar energy plants in the desert and so on. There are many different groups of people that all deserve to be called environmentalists, and some of them are on each side of these issues. Saying that environmentalists are against this use of funds suggests to people that all environmentalists are against it, and encourages supporters of HSR to think that they shouldn’t think of themselves as environmentalists.

    And as for the central debate here, HSR is unlikely to play much role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, because of the phenomenon of induced demand. However, what it will do is allow for continuing economic growth and public health benefits without corresponding increases in greenhouse gas emissions, the way that other transportation technologies would have. That’s certainly within the scope of the plan.

    michael allen Reply:

    Yeah, and the Bullet Train will create NEW JOBS, NEW GROWTH, and NEW BUSINESSES which are supported in part by the clean technology of the bullet train. We need to grow a CLEAN economy, because in the long run, a clean economy will be more sustainable and not be affected by future fossil fuel price shocks.

    Bill Reply:

    Thank you Kenny. I think touting this as some major achievement in the fight against global warming misses the point of the basic fact that we need to modernize our somewhat antiquated, yet already existing transportation infrastructure. There are too many people who could care less whether HSR is going to cut greenhouse emissions by x%, which it might not. Does any other country who uses HSR tout its environmental friendliness or just the fact that it’s a very efficient way to move people from point a to point b? People are too hung up on greenhouse emissions and LA to SF, it’s about SJ to SF, Fresno to Sac, ect in a reasonable time.

  11. Derek
    Jan 10th, 2014 at 12:03

    OPR Takes On Level of Service
    By CP&DR Staff, 2014-01-06

    Following up on the passage of SB 743, the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research is considering a variety of alternatives to vehicle “level of service” under CEQA…In a preliminary paper released last week, OPR declared unequivocally that SB 743 “marks a shift away from auto delay as a measure of environmental impact”.

  12. michael allen
    Jan 10th, 2014 at 12:48

    Just left a link to this article on the Facebook page of the Sierra Club.

  13. jimsf
    Jan 10th, 2014 at 20:29

    Mr. Boardman gave a speech today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The key issues he addressed included that the guiding principle of a new federal surface transportation investment program must focus on national priorities, connectivity and economic growth.
    “The Highway Trust Fund is dead. We need to be thinking about how to replace it with a surface transportation program for the 21st Century,” he stated.
    The current authorization for surface transportation programs – a two-year stopgap law known as MAP-21– expires this year, providing an opportunity to create a new framework for federal transportation investment.
    Mr. Boardman said the notion of a highway program must be replaced with a new, balanced Transportation Trust Fund for projects that are truly national in scope and responsibility, and generate policy outcomes the nation needs.
    He explained that a balanced program can provide investment in any surface mode– including highway, transit and rail (both passenger and freight)–and would unshackle transportation planners, system users and other decisions makers from simply chasing mode-restricted dollars and instead ask them to produce results that matter to the nation.
    “A world-leading economy today requires a world-leading transportation system that strengthens the whole network and recognizes and supports the unique roles each mode plays in supporting interstate commerce,” he said.
    He stressed that every program, every investment must provide for national connectivity and the overarching objective of transportation policies and infrastructure investments must be America’s economic future. He noted America is not making the investments needed for growth and improvement, and is just barely keeping the existing system going.
    “If we treat the issue as ‘what do we do within the existing structure,’ we will all lose – nothing worthwhile will change. The questions we as Americans must answer are ‘How do we redefine the approach to federal transportation investment to ensure it is focused on truly national needs? How do we recapture the national vision and purpose of the Interstate era?’” he asked.
    “We are facing a real challenge and the bankruptcy of the Highway Trust Fund is just the tip of the iceberg. It won’t be easy, but if we strive in good faith, we can find a way through to a solution that will give America what it needs,” he said.
    A copy of his full remarks is attached. Mr. Boardman’s address will be aired by C-SPAN at 6:45 p.m. (ET) tonight

    joe Reply:

    Mr. Boardman served as the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) since July 1997 and led a major transformation effort that has better enabled the agency to respond to the challenges associated with an ever-expanding global marketplace.

    Maps of NY transit systems

    Observer Reply:

    Mr. Boardman gets it. Will congress?

    StevieB Reply:

    Rural districts view infrastructure as only highways and will see any change as an attempt to decrease their road building dollars.

    joe Reply:


    To critics, Amtrak’s long-distance trains don’t reflect the way Americans travel today. They carry the fewest passengers and lose the most money, funds that could be spent elsewhere, such as Amtrak’s heavily traveled Northeast Corridor.

    In a May hearing, Rep. Jeff Denham, a California Republican and chairman of the railroads subcommittee in the House of Representatives, noted that Amtrak’s long-distance routes lost a combined $600 million in 2012.

    “We simply cannot afford to continue these levels of subsidized losses year after year,” Denham said.

    “If you look at these small communities,” Boardman said in an October conference call with reporters, “they depend on Amtrak being accessible.”

    The Southwest Chief calls in Hutchinson in the middle of the night, and the station ranks pretty far down the list in annual boardings. The city has highways and an airport. Still, Deardoff, the city manager, said, it’s a valued link.

    In an email, former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole said that Amtrak’s original map was drawn “with the understanding that the entire system benefits from long-distance service.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Out of curiosity, I looked up Michele Bachmann’s district, and saw that it actually represents several areas that could see a significant improvement in transit service given some more money and much better ways of spending it: MSP suburbs, plus St. Cloud. Of course, MSP-St. Cloud is on the Northern Transcon, so reasonable passenger service requires adding more tracks to avoid interfering with freight service, but the actual cost of that, at normal-world costs, isn’t very high.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Her district is filled with Real Americans(tm). Real Americans(tm) drive everywhere. They wouldn’t use it.

  14. John Nachtigall
    Jan 11th, 2014 at 08:56

    Bringing the GOP and Dems together…against the funding idea. Brings a tear to the eye.


    John Nachtigall Reply:

    And an editorial from that bastion of conservative thought. The SF Gate.


    Oh yeah, this will sail right through

    joe Reply:

    I wish you would read the editorial.

    They support HSR and Cap and trade. The worry is collateral damage from HSR’s unreasonable critics who might sue the cap and trade program to go after HSR.

    The governor’s proposal would make plenty of sense, if not for the politics surrounding high-speed rail.

    But here’s the catch: The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has said that high-speed rail could reduce greenhouse gases, but not before 2020. California is supposed to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals by 2020. Critics have already said that the cap-and-trade fees should be restricted to projects that help us meet the 2020 goals.

    it’s only a matter of time before furious environmentalists take the state to court. Such a lawsuit could exacerbate the controversy over not just high-speed rail, but also the state’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction program.

    Given what’s at stake – and despite all of the criticism that high-speed rail is facing, the train is crucial to the state’s future – might it not be wise for the governor to consider ways to balance the cap-and-trade funds by finding other sources of revenue as well?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I did read it and that is exactly the point. Even people who support both programs think it is a bad idea. Because they don’t think it will gain support and can’t be supported by the way the law is written.

    When even supporters think your plan is a bad idea, it’s a bad idea

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    Bringing the GOP and Dems together…against the funding idea.

    That reminds me of a description of a 60s urban renewal program: “Blacks and Whites united against the Poor.” You have Democrats united with Republicans on the Secret Constitutional Amendment that it now takes 60 votes to get anything through the US Senate. You have some Democrats united with Republicans that Bush’s irresponsible tax cuts should not be touched but the budget must be balanced. In the 44 years I’ve been listening to Republicans whine about “liberal media bias,” I have not heard one Democrat in an official position say that either the GOP knows it is a lie or they’re masochistically begging to be humiliated.

    So I’m not impressed that Republicans can find a few Democrats to give their proposals the “Bipartisan” stamp of approval.

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