Anti-HSR Zealots Sue To Stop Project, Claiming It Makes Climate Change Worse
Of all the lunatic claims touted by those who oppose high speed rail, this has to be the craziest. Stuart Flashman and David Schonbrunn of TRANSDEF, two leading anti-HSR advocates, are suing to stop high speed rail because they claim that an electric train powered by renewable energy would somehow make climate change worse:
TRANSDEF contends in the suit that instead of reducing greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, cement production for construction of the rail line “would result in significant increases in … emissions.” The suit contends that the Air Resources Board disregarded testimony presented by TRANSDEF and its president, David Schonbrunn, at public hearings last month before finalizing its approval of high-speed rail among projects qualifying for cap-and-trade money….
“High-speed rail should not be shown … as a GHG emissions reduction measure,” Schonbrunn testified on May 22. “The claimed GHG emissions reductions are a very expensive fantasy: they depend on $30 billion of project funding that the (California High-Speed Rail Authority) doesn’t have and can’t get.”
This is absurd, but it is also an extremely dangerous threat to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions. Anything we do to reduce CO2 emissions may in the immediate term actually cause some increase in emissions, but as long as the long-term effect is a significant reduction then it’s worth building.
But even that logic doesn’t apply here. The California High Speed Rail Authority is spending money to offset emissions produced during construction. So the construction of a carbon zero project will be carbon neutral. The state’s CO2 emissions won’t get worse, and a project will be built that the California Air Resources Board has said is essential to achieving long-term CO2 reductions.
Anti-HSR forces are getting increasingly reckless in their desperate attempt to fight the future. They are determined to kill this project at literally any cost – even if that cost is inundation of coastal California and an ecological disaster from soaring CO2 emissions.
Ultimately this is another reminder of the real obstacles in the way of solving the climate crisis. The oil companies and the right-wing are part of the problem. But so are NIMBYs and folks like TRANSDEF who shortsightedly find reasons to oppose essential carbon zero infrastructure. We will never solve our carbon emission problems until we have defeated these kinds of attacks on HSR.