Time To Stop All Oil Drilling in California

May 22nd, 2015 | Posted by

When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, we used to take regular camping trips to nearby state parks. Usually it was to a state beach. As we lived in Orange County, we often visited San Onofre, or San Clemente, sometimes Doheny.

One of my favorite trips, however, was up the coast to Refugio State Beach, on the pristine Gaviota Coast beyond Santa Barbara.

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With no development out there on that part of the coast, it’s a perfect place to spend a week camped out by the waves, in the warm California sun.

Or, it was a perfect place. Unfortunately, there is actually some development on the coast: oil. There’s not only offshore drilling, there is onshore drilling. And the oil drilled offshore is pumped onshore through a series of pipes.

In 1969 one of these pipes ruptured underwater, causing a massive spill that ranks only behind the Deepwater Horizon spill and the Exxon Valdez spill in size. As a result, no new offshore oil drilling has since been allowed in California.

But the existing operations continue. Some oil is actually drilled onshore. Most oil is drilled offshore and piped onshore to a processing facility, like ExxonMobil’s Las Flores Canyon site. Pipes along the coast carry the crude to refineries. And it’s one of these pipes that ruptured on Tuesday.

While the spill is not yet as large as the 1969 spill, the effect has been devastating:

By land and by sea, cleanup crews descended Wednesday morning on the Gaviota Coast as the major oil spill from the day before grew to cover nine miles of ocean along the shoreline. Initial estimates put the spill at approximately 21,000 gallons, but officials now fear as many as 105,000 gallons of crude oil may have leaked from the broken underground pipe operated by Plains All American Pipeline. Responders are still working to pin down the exact figure and to determine how much oil seeped into the ocean.

The oil sheen has quickly spread down the coast from the spill site just west of Refugio State Beach; yesterday’s estimate put the oil slick, which has now split into two separate slicks, at four miles long with expectations it would only spread another two to four miles.

Just as the 1969 oil spill led to a ban on new offshore drilling, the 2015 spill should lead to the end of oil drilling in California. Completely.

That should begin with coastal drilling operations, which ought to end immediately. 40,000 barrels of oil are drilled each day off California’s coast, compared to 524,000 barrels drilled onshore. While there would be an economic impact of shutting down the coastal drilling, the impact of oil spills, as well as a warming climate (such as the worst drought in decades) has an even bigger economic impact.

Over the next few years California should then wind down production of the onshore fields, most of which are in Monterey and Kern counties. Of course, fracking should at long last be immediately banned as well. It is essential for California’s natural environment, as well as its future climate, that the remaining oil stay in the ground.

That’s the supply side. California also needs to reduce the demand for oil. The California high speed rail project would save between 2 million and 3 million barrels of oil in California each year starting in 2030. Adding in new connecting transit in the state’s cities would help save even more oil.

California needed to move beyond oil even before Tuesday’s spill. But the oil spill is an urgent call for the state to act now. It’s not enough to ban new drilling. The state must do everything in its power to shut down current drilling.

  1. Joe
    May 22nd, 2015 at 09:36
    #1

    Oil severance tax!

    Coastal oil production is federal and taxed by the Feds. Oil produced from CA land is not taxed.

    Joe Reply:

    OIL DROP: The price of oil fell 92 cents, or 1.5percent, to $59.80 a barrel, helping push down the stocks of drillers and other energy-related companies. Marathon Oil fell 1 percent and Hess Corp. lost 2 percent.

    10% tax at today’s low price of $60 per barrel yields $6 per barrel.

    In 2013 when prices were $100/barrel CA produced 195 million barrels and would have collected $10 per barrel.

    http://m.sfgate.com/business/article/California-oil-production-rises-slightly-4314836.php
    California’s production, in contrast, rose 0.6 percent to reach 194.8 million barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That figure does not include oil pumped by offshore platforms in federal waters along the central and southern California coast.

    Joe Reply:

    http://ycharts.com/indicators/california_crude_oil_production

    The state’s most recent oil production estimate for 2015 is 15.8 million per month.

    Not sure where 500,000 comes from Robert.

    john burrows Reply:

    500,000 barrels per day

    joe Reply:

    Oh, Nevermind.

    synonymouse Reply:

    To hell with gasoline: electric cars. And adios FailRail.

    Jerry cannot see the contradiction. Good show.

    J. Wong Reply:

    So they’ll never ride HSR because “costs” but they’ll fork out for an electric.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People do all sorts of odd peculiar things because they are afraid of rubbing elbows with those people.

    J. Wong Reply:

    yeah, I think @synon is thinking of the _majority_ of drivers who really won’t because it costs too Mich.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Single seat ride in their I-Car. The only reason the immense potential of sophisticated electric autos has not been generally recognized thus far is the transition has hardly begun. Most people do not have enough money nor motive to make the change but the momentum is growing each and every day. And Jerry Brown is making it possible – he does not see it undermines the Legacy. And makes PalmdaleRail future Queretaro.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Will take too long.
    Electric cars can’t exceed the speed limit, physics is a bitch, and don’t eliminate congestion. Then you have to find a place to park it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Electric cars are great for driving around thinly populated rural areas though. The exact same places where local trains are not economically viable.

    Joe Reply:

    Well as a electric car owner in Cali and former Northern ID and Western MT resident I can say electric cars are horrible choices for those rural areas. Greater distances, fewer service areas, terrible roads (low taxes low maintenance) and simply heating the cabin and maintaining battery temperature will kill the vehicle range but is essential to defrost the widows and keep battery working, Seat heaters are the advised way to keep warm in an electric car but the widows will fog and freeze.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “Single seat ride in their I-Car. The only reason the immense potential of sophisticated electric autos has not been generally recognized thus far is the transition has hardly begun. ”

    Sort of like waiting around for A.I.

    synonymouse Reply:

    AI is here. Your computer is a primitive form of it.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yeah, your computer is to AI like bacteria are to humans.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is the analogy I was thinking of.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I wonder how well an electric would deal with the Tejon grade? I expect it can do it but I wonder how much charge you’d have after cresting?

    synonymouse Reply:

    A guideway could very well incorporate current collection – perhaps even induction.

    Mu’d electric car trains would chew up Tejon. Ever see a trolley bus tackle 15%?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Electrics are consistently better on steep grades than fuel-burners.

  2. Keith Saggers
    May 22nd, 2015 at 11:02
    #2

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/technology/single-view/view/csr-and-universities-to-establish-uk-rail-research-centre.html

    Useless Reply:

    Oil and high speed rail are two separate things. California needs both. So don’t stop drilling. Instead drill baby drill.

    Observer Reply:

    We need HSR, and unfortunately still need oil for our car habit. What I would like to see though is a point of sale rebate for electric and hybrid cars instead of a tax credit that you have to claim on your tax return. Electric and hybrid cars are getting better and better, give them a good stimulus and more people will buy them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, Korea has really high greenhouse gas emissions relative to GDP…

    Miles Bader Reply:

    California’s addiction to oil and auto transport should be addressed, not pandered to.

    HSR will help a little with that, but there need to be other steps too, such as increasing the cost of gasoline, building better local transport, getting rid of zoning restrictions on denser development, stop building roads, etc.

  3. J. Wong
    May 22nd, 2015 at 11:41
    #3

    Just so non-Californians know, oil naturally seeps off the coast there, of course no where near the amount pumped or spilled, okay?

    EJ Reply:

    So what’s your point exactly? There’s no comparison between natural seepage and a fairly major oil spill.

    Eric Reply:

    Maybe if we pump out most of the oil it will stop seeping out naturally. (Just because something’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good.)

    Zorro Reply:

    That’s the reason why funding for Fusion R&D has never been funded, Big Oil(KOCH), says NO DOE, NO DOJ, NO FBI, NO FDA, NO EPA, NO FTC, NO SSA, etc, etc, etc…

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Over time natural seepage is as great as a leak, it has time to disperse

  4. datacruncher
    May 22nd, 2015 at 16:43
    #4

    It is more a game of “Whack the Mole”.

    Since capacity for Bakken by Rail has not been developing fast enough, the oil industry has switched to Bakken by Barge for California. Shipped by rail to Oregon/Washington then transfered to barges towed down the California coast to refineries. In 2014, 1.5 million barrels by barge to California which was much more than received by rail. The entire California coast now bears the risk of an oil barge accident.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/17/california-crude-imports-idUSL2N0XE02J20150417

    Until California no longer needs oil products, we just keep shifting to the risk of a different type of accident.

    Eric Reply:

    Until *the world* no longer needs oil products.

    Nathanael Reply:

    That will happen sooner rather than later. And cutting the oil supply, which keeps the price up, helps cause money to go into alternative, electricity-based technologies.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Eh. Cutting the oil demand does that, for a completely different reason: it channels demand toward alternatives, giving them a consumer market that they can sell to while improving. For example, solar subsidies have facilitated the drop in solar energy prices.

  5. Brian_FL
    May 22nd, 2015 at 17:24
    #5

    O/T update on AAF

    Construction of new freight bypass track has begun in West Palm Beach. This will allow for construction of the new station and platform to take place without interfering with freight traffic. This new track will be permanent at WPB and also similar one at the Fort Lauderdale station site. This 3rd track may also allow for a low level boarding platform for eventual Tri-Rail service at these stations as well. Work has now commenced at all 4 station sites (work starts this summer at the Orlando airport intermodal terminal being built by the airport) and new double tracking between WPB and Miami will begin this summer (in the next 30-45 days I’ve been told). Pics of WPB work at link below:

    https://www.facebook.com/charleschuckwalker/media_set?set=a.1176011182414062.1073741835.100000155733512&type=1&l=f3fe4ef9d7

  6. Donk
    May 23rd, 2015 at 00:27
    #6

    Seriously? Stop ALL oil drilling in CA? Is that really your solution? That is totally ridiculous. Lets also ban all smoking in the state, force all porn filming out of state, ban all gluten products, and force farmers to breed chickens in ryokans.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yep, that is my solution, and it is going to happen within the next 15 years.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Nothing stays the same. Remember Prohibition?

    The next generation won’t know who Jerry Brown was and could care less about preserving his Legacy. It will have to stand on its merits and it has terrible legs, thanks to PB.

    Its real competition, the automobile(now electric and way advanced thanks in part to the ban on drilling, etc.)enjoys all the prime ROW’s, with Jerry’s Legacy relegated to a tertiary route. Queretaro, baby.

    Joe Reply:

    Prohibition.
    Electric cars.
    World fair pins
    Jet packs
    Automata
    Tomorrowland

    synonymouse Reply:

    The tech is pretty much already there without a lot of new R&D. Motors, controls, current collection systems, mu couplers, computerized automated running systems.

    Apart from rail applications and exotics like prt’s and OAC like people movers there has been very little work done on or interest in electric cars until quite recently. Totally discrete vehicles in mixed traffic are an enormous challenge to automate but assisted systems are quite conceivable. And of course tech giants with the deepest of pockets, like Apple, are just exploring the possibilities. Automobiles can be very profitable and with the public mindset shifting from the Dukes of Hazard to Tomorrowland opposition from the internal combustion interests can now be overcome in a way it was not possible before.

    Joe Reply:

    We lack imagination. Just one bright person away from electric self driving cars and automata.
    And if that doesn’t work, their wife can drive them.

    Tesla with standard range is an 80,000 car. Average rent in CA requires over 80 hours of work at minimum wage.

    EJ Reply:

    Joe, don’t forget cheap fusion power. I hear fusion is only 20 or so years away.

    Of course, I heard the same thing when I was a kid back in the 1970s, but I’m sure this time it’s for real.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Cheap fusion power was only ten years away back in the 60s. General Electric even had a simulator at their pavillion at the 1964-65 World’s Fair. And in 1965 Lyndon Johnson signed the High Speed Ground Transportation Act which was going to give us two hour trip times between New York and Washington DC by the mid 70s….. fastest Metroliners did it in two hours and thirty minutes. Todays schedules for Acela take 15 minutes longer. Sigh.

    agb5 Reply:

    Fusion power is 12 years away… https://www.iter.org/proj/iterandbeyond
    But it’s not cheap.

    joe Reply:

    That link describes an effort to understand what’s needed. Then those problem would need resolution.

    Meanwhile global investments to improve the efficacy of renewables and energy storage continue.

    This lopsided effort favors renewables.

    Eric Reply:

    According to this graph, fusion would exist by now if fusion research had been funded. But it never was.
    http://i.imgur.com/sjH5r.jpg

    Nathanael Reply:

    Fusion power is 6 light-minutes away, in a giant glowing fusion reactor called ‘the sun’. Harvesting that power IS cheap, now.

    Eric Reply:

    But it’s only available 12 hours a day.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Joe: to be fair, the $80,000 Tesla Model S has a *25%* gross profit margin baked into it. It actually costs the company only $60,000 to manufacture. Of that, about $20,000 was battery, and they’re expecting to bring that down to less than $10,000 in the next couple of years by mass production of batteries. A lot of the remaining $40,000 is the aluminum body. Musk still says he’s going to able to sell a mass-produced electric car at $35K in a few years, and even if you don’t believe him, he’ll probably be able to do it for $45K,

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just consider what would be the environmental argument against electric vehicles being allowed to go, say, a sustained 90 mph, on dedicated lanes on I-5? Electric autobahn – just manually driven.

    It would not take very long for electric motorists to pass thru the Valley – a real dilemma for PalmdaleRail.

    Jerry Reply:

    So will Positive Train Control turn into Positive Auto Control?

    Michael Reply:

    …until a semi pulls out at 61mph to pass another semi running at 60mph, as happens constantly along I-5. Oh, add lanes? Musk will automate semis to the 90mph traffic? Put the semis on JerryMojaveMonoUnionRail with a double-tracked loop, like Harriman wanted to do before the Illuminati redirected effort to converting the British Fleet to oil? SMART kissing BART under the ol’ Cherry tree.

    I see why you do this now. It’s sorta fun, but not productive at all.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Your argument is a good one – trucking interests would support high speed auto lanes to free up space for trucks on the slower ones.

    Eric Reply:

    High speed lanes don’t increase capacity, because the breaking distance between cars increases faster than the speed does.

    EJ Reply:

    It would take them longer than it would on 220 mph HSR, even with the slightly longer route through Bakersfield and Fresno.

    Besides, how much are those dedicated lanes going to cost? What about access control? Is the public really going to spring for subsidies for the small percentage of Californians who can afford a fast electric car?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The route through Bakersfield and Fresno(Pacheco, 99, Tehachapi)is much longer for a trip from Oakland to LA.

    Limousine liberals live to find funding for more freeway lanes. See Barbara Boxer.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They’d have to build it that extra special lane. The usual number given for how much it costs to build a lane of Interstate grade highway is 25 million. 19 billion dollars assuming that it would be possible since it’d be a bit pricier in suburban and urban places. Google says it 382 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. At a 90 MPH, which the magic car wouldn’t be able to do, it would take four hours and 15 minutes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Ask yourself realistically how many cars are going 90 right now on I-5.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    So I concur about “Tesla Lanes” being another straw man argument by Synonymouse, but it’s also the reason I keep sticking to the idea that the solution to the “Schweitzer Paradox” will be HSR service that is similar to the Auto-Train back East.

    (Dr. Lisa Schweitzer is a professor at USC’s Price School of Public Policy who maintains that HSR will fail in Southern California because public transportation is inadequate to supply the amount of passenger demand HSR will need to be profitable.)

    Synonymouse’s idea sounds plausible until you realize there’s no technological barrier to it now– a private companies could build a turnpike near the I-5 and limit it to passenger vehicles but remove the day time speed limit. And yet, no one has done it because it doesn’t make sense now, as others point out.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    AutoTrain is for snowbirds who want to move their car to and from Florida. People with jobs don’t use it. It takes too long.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s also one of Amtrak’s most profitable routes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    At 450 bucks for the car plus regular Amtrak fares for the people it should be.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s profitable like the freight train that it (partly) is.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and for the car’s fare and your fare you can fly to Florida, without having to drive to Virginia, and rent a car. It’s a microniche market for snowbirds.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I understand snow-birds really like the Auto-Train…but the service does run at other times of the year.

    Moreover, it’s really economical for a family on a longer trip to save the gas and car rental costs.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The autotrain nicely illustrates the ability of rail to carry heavy, bulky, freight relatively cheaply, but it has nothing to do with HSR.

    Even if they did (‘Murika!) build car-carrying streamlined HSR compatible EMUs, you can’t decrease your capacity by a factor of 20 (or more), vastly increase your loading/boarding times and required station infrastructure, and vastly increase your ticket prices, and pretend it serves the same purpose HSR does.

    At best, such a thing would be an expensive supplement to normal HSR, filling excess track capacity (will there be any, with the “blending”?) during non-peak periods, and mainly used by the wealthy.

    But in reality it’s just not going to happen, because it’s simply too awkward, doesn’t fit well with the rest of the system, and isn’t worth the large amount of additional infrastructure.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Miles,

    The core of “Schweitzer Paradox” is the same one that East Coast face when going to Florida– density and availability of trains means that you don’t need a car when goingon a long vacation from Long Island to D.C. or even Cambridge…but you do need one for even an overnight trip to Orlando.

    It’s the same story in California…the density of Northern California and transit systems are such to where car ownership is lot less integral to one’s daily existence than in the South. That doesn’t mean there are not car-dependent suburbs here or even ass-bad transit service…just that car ownership is not a sacrament along with baptism and marriage.

    The alternatives to NOT have a car friendly HSR service in Southern California are all pretty ridiculous too. Synonymouse’s Autobahn, or Musk’s Hyperloop not withstanding. The easiest way to illustrate this is by counting the number of stations.

    Between Gilroy and SF, there are four planned stations with a population of around 3 million for an average of 750,000 people per station. In the South, there are also four stations planned, Palmdale, Burbank, downtown LA, and Anaheim for a total population of around 13 million or an average of 3.25 million per station.

    Now imagine if someone proposed having only one HSR station for the Bay Area at Milbrae and expect public transportation connections to pick up the slack…you would think they are crazy.

    Politically, of course, this makes perfect sense because of the North-South rivalry for transportation funding. So having the IOS run from the Central Valley to LA would seem to inoculate HSR from the standard criticism of being a pet project of the Bay Area. But that doesn’t diminish how impractical or unfeasible the strategy is…largely because the Bay Area is booming economically and desperately could use a safety valve to cheaper land in the Valley.

    But que sera sera… one battle at a time I suppose.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you want to go to Orlando from the Northeast or Midwest for an overnight trip you can’t take a train. Even a high speed one. It takes too long. Or Miami or Tampa or Fort Lauderdale or anyplace else you want to pick in Florida. Or drive, it takes too long. In nice round numbers Washington DC to Jacksonville is 700 miles. Assuming absolutely no traffic anywhere and no need to stop anywhere ( ya got a car with a 700 mile range in it’s fuel tank? Or a bladder that big? ) it takes ten hours. Orlando is another 140 miles and two hours. Miami is 350 and 5 hours.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Anyone whose business unavoidably takes them into the car-dependent transit-free (or “transit unacceptable”) hinterland can deal with it the same way they deal with it when flying: they’ll rent a car, they’ll use taxis and shuttles, they’ll get rides.

    For someone travelling on a 3 day business trip, paying an extra $1000+ (a typical round-trip price for the existing autotrain; an HSR version would probably be even more expensive) to avoid renting a car for a few days is …. not very cost-efficient. Moreover, there’s no way such a “car service” could operate on the same schedule as passenger trains, so in reality, they’d actually be without their car for part of their stay anyway (requiring them to use taxis, etc).

    For someone going down to LA for a six months, the money saved by not needing to rent or use taxis might be significant, so maybe bringing their own car would be a reasonable idea (this is the “snowbird” scenario), but in that case, there’s no need for the car to go via HSR, they could wait a while. So a car-transport service on standard rail might be a useful adjunct to HSR service, something for amtrak or the freight lines to look into. Such a thing would be far more practical than somehow trying to cram autotrains into HSR, where they simply don’t fit.

    [In the future, of course, the hope is that HSR will help to drive development of better local transit, denser cities, etc, making HSR even more popular, in a virtuous cycle.]

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Miles,

    Remember that the presumption Synonymouse and the Sierra Club are operating under is that California will adopt electric cars in the not-too-distance future. If range capabilities don’t improve, it’s going to be almost impossible to drive between Northern and Southern California as many residents do now, taking about six hours.

    And while there is the chance for “charging stations” to expedite how fast one can maneuver their Tesla down the 5, there’s the issue of how much juice a popular charging station would need to have this be an option. Having your car charged en route by being connected to the HSR’s power lines would solve this problem and leave you in Los Angeles will a full battery, not a dead one.

    But I understand…HSR is very distinct to you and you can’t envision American’s bastardizing pure foreign technology. I couldn’t for a while either, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me that there will be some evolution of what is HSR as it becomes entrenched in the United States.

    swing hanger Reply:

    An HSR “Auto-train” designs have to take into account the loading gauge (you likely need a double deck design to get optimal revenue per train length), axle load, main line pathing and terminal access restrictions that will be imposed on them. Perhaps they can be run at night, though typically that’s when you want to shut down the line for maintenance. Then again, we’re talking something occuring at least 20 years in the future, so who knows?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The degree of adoption of electric cars – the level of penetration of the auto market – still way too low and the cost of a Tesla too high. But that will change and Jerry Brown is doing everything he can to make it so. With realizing it undercuts PalmdaleRail.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It doesn’t undercut it…not everyone is going to be able to afford a car in the future. There has to be some embrace of density that in turn, makes HSR more viable.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The people who cannot afford a car will be taking the bus.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    ….because electric bus technology is so far along….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Regular fossil bus.

    You cannot even get Muni to electrify – they think like a class one.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    See Robert’s statement above that European gas prices are in California’s near future.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It doesn’t undercut it at all. I speak with authority as a Tesla Model S owner who consistently uses trains for travel beyond the “day trip” range.

    Long drivers *suuuck*.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Heh, that’s “long drives” which suck.

    Danny Reply:

    so what’s the Prohibition argument here? that there’d be moonshine drillers evading G-men on the streets of Petrolia?

    Joe Reply:

    We’ll run out of easily extracted oil and have limited water and no tax incentive to allow fracking.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    15 years?

    I can see how if the dollar stays strong that the Saudis will continue to let the price of oil on the world market fall and take domestic drilling sites out of production.

    And I can see Sacramento imposing more taxes on fuel consumption in California to stymie more demand for gasoline that would otherwise occur as the raw price falls from increased foreign supply.

    But I’m not sure that “air-tight” logic will remove all California oil fields from production. The reason is that Alaska would also be affected by declines in domestic drilling (as it is now), and there isn’t the refinery capacity in Alaska that you have in California.

    Thus, unless you intend to eliminate all human settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, demand for some petroleum, somewhere, sometime will keep a percentage of California’s fields and refineries open forever, even with some decrease in demand.

    42apples Reply:

    Good luck building High Speed Rail without oil. And good luck powering it without natural gas.

    wdobner Reply:

    That’s what nuclear is for. Less radioactive than coal, less destructive to groundwater than natural gas, less ecological impact than solar or wind. Start desalinating seawater and get going with synfuel production.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Solar is sufficient to build and power HSR. Oil and natural gas are pointless.

    (Interestingly, it’s harder to stop using coal, because steel, and concrete.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What’s wrong with gluten? Or porn?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The harsh truth is that petroleum is California’s tobacco.

    Even if we quit the carbon addiction, leaving the black stuff underground is one less export that California’s economy can use to help pay for all the government spending that liberals like Robert want.

    And as long as the government spending is more a product of state preference and not federal preference because of GOP control in DC…then natural resources are going to be even more important as a niche that Western states can fill in the national economic profile.

    There’s no excuse for this spill, just as there was no excuse for the San Bruno disaster with PG&E’s consumer natural gas pipelines. But the blame probably rests at the PUC in San Francisco, and not with the drillers this time.

    Donk Reply:

    Exactly, even if CA bans all gasoline-powered vehicles in this state in 15 years, there is no way the rest of the country and the rest of the world has enough people who give a shit about the environment to follow suit. So even if this happens there will still be global demand for oil, and CA would be stupid not to frack it, tax it, and export it. Otherwise, somebody else will make money off it it. Just like how LA County basically forced all porn filming and and CA is forcing chicken farming out of state for somebody else to make money off it it.

    But yes, not in environmentally sensitive areas.

    Joe Reply:

    Fracking oil is stupid. You destroy an aquifer permanently to get a one time shot at oil that CA refuses to tax.

    So let’s not destroy our natural groundwater infrastructure.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    There’s plenty of oil, however, that is recoverable in California without fracking…

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The Fracking process itself is a huge problem, but that doesn’t mean “conventionally recovered” oil is a good thing. This pipeline rupture makes that point pretty well…

    Until it can be done away with, stringent safety/environmental regulations and liability laws can at least help encourage the oil industry to be more careful.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Certainly. But it does alarm me that very few have made the connection publicly between San Bruno and this spill. Effective regulation is not the enemy of free enterprise that it is made out to be.

    42apples Reply:

    I don’t believe that the fracking process itself is the problem. Nearly all of the issues (earthquakes, water contamination) seem to stem from injection wells. Find better ways to get rid of (or reuse) the wastewater and fracking may not be much worse than conventional drilling. http://science.time.com/2013/07/12/deep-disposal-wells-from-oil-and-gas-drilling-linked-to-earthquakes/

    Eric Reply:

    “What’s wrong with gluten? Or porn?”

    A school child might touch something containing gluten and die from anaphylactic shock! Porn exploits and demeans women! (Even gay porn, somehow.)

  7. Domayv
    May 23rd, 2015 at 13:36
    #7

    Texas’s attempts to defeat HSR in their state has been defeated. The Texas HSR project still lives: http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/Budget-Provision-to-Ban-the-Use-of-State-Funds-for-High-Speed-Rail-Voted-Down-304794591.html

    EJ Reply:

    I don’t think anyone who reads this blog is interested in that. Texas HSR only comes up when Robert wants to prophesy its doom.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Same thing with the AAF project in Florida. It is not HSR but it will have a bigger impact on passenger rail in this country than anything since the startup of Amtrak 45 years ago. Building new tracks has already started and vertical construction at 3 station sites is immiment, yet the project is seen as insignificant. There is more happening in this country in regards to new passenger rail services than just CA.

    Perhaps AAF doesn’t fit the story line here in that a republican controlled state actually supports passenger rail, albeit privately funded. Which is not necessarily a bad thing seeing how publicly funded passenger rail service has turned out in this country for the most part.

    I think Texas HSR has a better than even chance of getting built based on how they are going about trying to get it designed and built. Time will tell, but AAF will be first out of the gate, then TX HSR followed by CA HSR.

    keith saggers Reply:

    Then Nevada, come on Arizona, join the club.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    There’s no bias against Republican governors delivering on rail improvements per se…remember Charlie Crist was all for the Orlando to Tampa HSR plan.

    However, most of the people who read this blog don’t know anything about Florida, and your updates are often the only measure of what is changing there.

    I personally don’t think FECR’s end game is to run a passenger rail service…but there’s no denying the positive impact that their stated plans have had….

    Brian_FL Reply:

    It just seems a lot of the opinions expressed on this blog are of the sort that republicans=anti-rail and democrats=pro-rail. Even in TX is appears that a majority of republican elected officials are at least not against the HSR plan in that state.

    FECI is only in it as an opportunity to make money off of development and if the trains can break even or show a little profit then that is additional profit. From what I have read and been told, AAF has big plans to expand the potential sources of passengers from the typical. I believe they have plans to act more like a trip facilitator – they will work with cruise lines, Disney and Universal and others as well as tour packages. They will provide final mile service to your destination when public transit is not there.

    AAF will not just be a passive seller of tickets to get from point A to point B. That is why I think this project is so exciting. AAF will be a lot of marketing and brand building as well as running trains. Which I believe is what a lot of critics are not getting when they say this project will fail. But time will tell who is right.

    Joe Reply:

    “It just seems a lot of the opinions expressed on this blog are of the sort that republicans=anti-rail and democrats=pro-rail. Even in TX is appears that a majority of republican elected officials are at least not against the HSR plan in that state.”

    Fact based.
    Well list off the governors who rejected HSR funds and accepted the Fed funding.

    The GOP opposes HSR at the federal level and in CA. When it suits their interests in a state they control, it’s all good.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    That’s my point, not all republicans are anti-rail as it depends. Here in Florida, state republicans have generally been in favor with exception of two governors: Jeb Bush and Rick Scott. But in the state senate and house there has been bipartisan support as they understand that Florida needs an alternative to cars and highways.

    CA in my opinion supports HSR, but am confused why they haven’t fully funded it at levels that will allow for fast construction of the project.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Facts, though: nearly all elected Republicans are anti-rail. The exceptions are nice (Ashley Swearingen, Rick Snyder), but they are definitely exceptions.

    There are no, zero, none, nada Democrats who are as rabidly anti-rail as the Republicans Scott Walker, Rick Scott, or Kasich. Rail-hating is a Republican thing.

    keith saggers Reply:

    personally don’t think FECR’s end game is to run a passenger rail service-explain

    keith saggers Reply:

    @Ted Judah

    Ted Judah Reply:

    As best I can tell, the FECR wants Amtrak and Tri-Rail to buy them out or at the very least become their tenant. They want to develop the land around the tracks to benefit from the ridership switching from the CSX tracks to theirs.

    All the discussion of increasing demand for trips between South Florida and Orlando is fantasy. I wish it were true, but in my “old” age find it foamer talk and nothing more….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    All those people who left their cars at airports in the Midwest and Northeast get the urge to visit the happiest place in the world and then go see Grandma in Boca. Or vice versa.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    @Ted Judah

    I have not heard any discussion (other than from contrarians) that FECI (not FECR as you state) wants any government agency to buy them out after they spend $1.75 Billion on the railroad.

    How would that be logical at all? FECI would ask investors to risk 1.75 billion of private investment in order to sell out to a reluctant state? And most likely at a loss at that. Investors would lose a lot in that scenario.

    Tri Rail is having political trouble coming up with the $69 million required to begin service to the new Miami Central station that AAF is building. It will be done but it is a stretch to claim that Amtrak or Tri Rail will buy out AAF in the end. They have been maneuvering behind the scenes to make it happen but it will from what I’ve been told. You have to remember that Florida is ruled by RE developers.

    AAF is here to stay in Florida. And they have also hinted that they see themselves as a new paradigm for passenger rail in the US. I would not be surprised if they eventually show up in Texas or in the NEC.

    And how is the increasing of demand fantasy? What facts do you have to say otherwise? There are a lot of foreign visitors to Florida that have no issue taking a train between destinations. Why are you so negative on that? If AAF can line up investors to buy $1.75 billion in bonds then what do you say about that? AAF filed a court document last week saying that they would be able to sell all of the necessary private activity bonds by June 8. It must say something that private investors have that much faith in the business model that AAF is providing to investors. They have done EIS homework through an investment grade business study.

    AAF is a lot further along then most on his blog realize.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The challenge for AAF isn’t actually creating a viable business model for passenger rail…the challenge is that the airlines hold a lot more power over Congress than even the Class I’s.

    The airline industry is undergoing an unprecedented wave of consolidation, which is causing a contraction in the number of cities that are viable hubs for operations. This is having a huge ripple on business travel, because you don’t want to based in a city where you can’t get direct flights out of town.

    In Florida’s case, American uses Miami International as a stronghold to control most flights between the US and the Carribbean. Orlando, however, is controlled by United. And Atlanta, where the largest segment of Florida travelers come from, is Delta’s home. In this sort of oligopoly, an independent rail line between Orlando and Miami is the LAST thing the airlines want to see. All it takes is United, Delta, or American to buy a stake in the company and the project will grind to a halt as the DOJ and antitrust investigators comb through the deal.

    In principle, however, I can see the attraction of HSR between Orlando and Miami, if you overlook the terrible connecting transit options in both metro areas. It’s undoubtedly true that there’s synergy to be had from putting tourist attractions in closer proximity to one another. But that comes at some economic cost from the business that serve the existing rental car market in Florida (and the heavy tax burden those visitors pay.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Atlanta is Orlando’s busiest destination. Served by three airlines. And overwhelmed by the traffic from the Northeast and Midwest.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando_International_Airport#Statistics

    Delta is the second busiest carrier in Orlando.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s only because Atlanta has just one airport. JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia between them have almost 50% more traffic than Atlanta.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Many Georgians actually live in Florida for tax purposes. Okay, so that’s also true for New Yorkers, New Jerseyans…but much of the traffic between Atlanta and Florida is almost commuter in nature.

    swing hanger Reply:

    I recall reading somewhere that AAF is packaged in a manner to allow it to be sold off relatively easily should Fortress Investments deem it no longer a necessary part of its portfolio. Though rather than selling it to a public entity (shudder), likely a firm such as Veolia or Abellio, or even another investment firm would be more likely suitors, IMO.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Yes AAF is separated into two components. Stations and operations. The two entities are separate in order to allow the RE opportunities at the stations to be maximized versus the costs and opportunities of running a rail service. The operations part is critical to the success of the RE part. It would be hard to separate the two.

    AAF is really a real estate development play based on a transportation project that will benefit both. If AAF can entice 3 million trips per year they will be profitable. and allow the ancillary development to thrive as well. The only question is how will they expand to Tampa and Jacksonville. I have my own ideas about Tampa since the mayor here is supportive. Not so sure about Jax.

    Reedman Reply:

    Brian —
    What do you think has to happen to get AAF to Tampa? And where in Tampa?
    (Downtown Tampa is easier than getting to the Tampa Airport, which is easier than going further west to St. Petersburg).

    Brian_FL Reply:

    @reedman

    First, from I’ve been told, the initial route to Orlando has to be successful. I assume that means that it has to be close to breaking even or make money. Not really sure how AAF defines successful in their opinion. Second, I have been told that FDOT is keeping the “rail transit envelop” open throughout the length of I-4 between downtown Tampa and the Orlando Convention Center exit. They have been working with AAF to ensure that the new I-4 construction will not use any of that space and also have made sure any future toll lanes in Tampa will not use that space.

    I am assuming that the same location for the HSR station would be used in Tampa near the Marion Transit Center that is our local bus terminal downtown. FDOT owns a lot of this land in the area south of I-275 downtown so it would be relatively easy to acquire I would think. other government agencies own adjacent land as well. I have heard that AAF has met with Tampa/Hillsborough leaders to keep them informed of their progress. I think the chance of it going to St Pete or the airport is very remote – too expensive for that last 5 miles for too little increase in revenue.

    My feeling is that Tampa has to improve their bus service and also offer some sort of deal to enable development around any AAF station site in Tampa. This is what I heard from one of my county commissioners who is active with transit issues here. It makes sense as that is what AAF is about – development and providing a transit option to increase the value of the development.

    I know most people think they will expand to Jacksonville first, I think Tampa has a better than expected chance. Review the old 2006 FDOT transportation report online and you will find that there are many more trips between Tampa and Orlando, Tampa and South Florida than between Jacksonville and Orlando or South Florida. Much more potential for AAF in Tampa than in Jacksonvilee. Plus the time to get to travel to Jacksonville might reduce ridership as well. The Tampa extension would be all 125 mpg running and only add 45 minutes to the trip to Miami making it competitive with car and air travel.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Just like OCTA wants to run trains to Palmdale
    Suggest you review prria and 750 mile corridors .
    Unless Florida has had an expansion program amtrak is precluded from taking over AAF
    And of course tri rail has no money.
    Ted, where do you get this stuff?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Paul,

    It’s called game theory.

    When the economy engages in what is known as “agglomeration”, as it has since the Great Recession peaked, jurisdictions become susceptible to the same competitive pressures as all the firms being destroyed.

    All these government subdivisions are in compeition with one another now, and until the economy actually resumes real growth, weaker cities, counties, and transit districts will be crushed by the stronger ones. Orange County, LA County, BART, Cal Train, Orlando, Miami. The names and locations change, but the story stays the same….

    Anandakos Reply:

    The FEC right of way is not suitable for very high speed running; it’s much more through the heart of the towns along the coast. CSX came much later and as a result had to build west of the cities along the edge of the Everglades. That of course means that there are far fewer walk-up passengers for its route. But it also means that they trains can move more quickly; they have far fewer grade crossings than they would on the FEC.

    wdobner Reply:

    Apologies for this slight necropost, but the only reason AAF might get second billing here is because it’s not HSR in the same class as CHSRA or even Texas. It’s not going to be significantly faster than Illinois’ operating “high speed” rail, which creates little discussion on this board because its average speed is less than half what the CHSRA proposes to provide.

    It doesn’t help that AAF is a means to use RRIF loans to develop property in downtown Miami. The “HS”R will at best be a loss leader for the real estate speculation they’re pushing through above the Miami station.

  8. Reedman
    May 24th, 2015 at 09:34
    #8

    A bit off track — it appears that public transit price elasticity is not what some economists predict. The Oakland Airport Connector is getting near its predicted ridership (~2500 per day) in spite of a $6 fare (twice what the bus it replaced cost). Perhaps BART should raise fares to pay for tunneling to downtown San Jose.

    joe Reply:

    ” Oakland airport connector cost $484 million to build with a $3 million operational budget annually, BART documents show.”

    It needs about 1,700 daily riders to cover operating costs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    due to driverless. It is brand new; we’ll have to see about the maintenance costs.

    Lapham and Robinson must be rotating in their graves they hated cable-hauled so much.

    But in the original application $7 a ride and no transfer is not public transit. I remember so well when it was 15 cents.

    Zorro Reply:

    Driverless cars have already caused accidents on the road, the article can be found Here.

    As it turns out, Google ‘Self-Driving electric car is not as ‘idiot proof’ as they thought. It’s been causing accidents. Why police are remaining so tight-lipped about this trend is unknown, but there could be a classified ‘DARPA-like’ aspect to this new tech.

    It’s all been a bit hush-hush on Google’s end who want the public to believe that their driverless cars are no worse than human drivers behind the wheel.

    Peter Reply:

    Please reread the article. I didn’t see any actual evidence listed in the article that the Google cars were causing any accidents, merely that they were involved in any accidents. Instead, it seems to imply that because there is no such public evidence, there is some sort of cover-up going on.

    Zorro Reply:

    I merely brought up the point that the article omitted that fact.

    Peter Reply:

    You stated “Driverless cars have already caused accidents on the road” and cited an article. The article, while it makes the same claim as you do, does not use any facts to support its claim, just speculation and claims of some conspiracy.

    Zorro Reply:

    Ok here is a specific example.

    NBC San Francisco followed up and got a witness report:

    Google’s Prius struck another Prius, which then struck her Honda Accord that her brother was driving. That Accord then struck another Honda Accord, and the second Accord hit a separate, non-Google-owned Prius.

    Zorro Reply:

    Or this here(During testing in California, 11 of the vehicles are involved in minor accidents.), which was also not reported.

    Eleven Google driverless vehicles have been involved in minor accidents on California roads over the past six years during testing, the company said on Monday, stressing that none of its cars were at fault in any of the incidents.

    The company made the admission after a report from the Associated Press said two Google driverless cars, while controlled by computers, had been involved in accidents since last fall, when the state gave the company official permission to start testing the technology on public roads. Nobody was hurt in any of the crashes, Google said.

    But the police reports on the accidents were not made public, as California law requires. Google did not release the reports, either – a practice that could hurt the future of driverless cars, which several technology companies are trying to develop.

    Proponents of self-driving cars argue that computer-driven vehicles can help improve automotive safety by reacting faster to oncoming dangers and keeping a better eye on the environment, reducing the risk of driver error. But the public lacks objective data about whether that’s true in practice – or even potentially true.

    Peter Reply:

    Your example is four years old, and there was a person driving the car at the time.

    Joe Reply:

    FWIW

    Google is using federal property such as Moffett Field to test thier fully autonomous cars.
    That eliminates the State entirely.

    Joey Reply:

    Driverless systems have been deployed around the world without ridiculous costs.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Driverless trains, yes. Driverless cars, no. Driverless cars are dangerous and Google is being very stupid by covering up the crashes they’ve already had.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (Just to forestall the typical reaction, cars driven by typical bad drivers are more dangerous than driverless cars, but it doesn’t matter. People will not accept driverless cars unless they are *safer* than *good* drivers. Which they are not.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This is still deep six figures per rider.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The MTA in Los Angeles also found this out the hard way when they used a federal grant to install tolling on carpool lanes that would feature dynamic pricing to reduce congestion.

    They raised the prices going into downtown L.A. at peak times to over $10 one way, yet they found demand didn’t fall…after some research they realized contractors and other business travelers were passing the costs on and therefore a different market entirely from regular consumers.

    Eric Reply:

    Well, that’s great! Raise the price to $20, or $50, or whatever point the demand does start to fall. Then, not only have you eliminated congestion in your bus/HOT lane, but you have a ton of money available to spend on other worthy projects.

    (And if we’re talking about government contractors, change the rules so that THEY can’t get a $50 reimbursement for using this lane. But if private companies want to pay for this, that’s their business.)

    Joe Reply:

    The whole concept is simplistic.
    it’s hard to plan a commute day with dynamic pricing. There are other examples of dynamic pricing where the market/social/psychological consequences of dynamic pricing and congestion are more complex than Adam smith economics.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The MTA only reluctant did the HOT project because of the federal grant, and the insistence of the Bush Administration to try it about ten years ago. They knew how unpopular tolls are in Southern California generally.

    Matt Reply:

    LA Metro is looking at expanding the HOT lanes to other freeways. The project is considered a success to date by most people as it is producing a lot of revenue and is fairly popular among most people. Orange County has toll freeways and lanes. San Diego has a popular HOT lane too.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Um yeah. The toll authorities in Orange and San Diego counties are almost bankrupt. They have rarely met projections and remember that at a certain point the tolling bodies have to give the State ownership back of the highway. The HOT lanes have no such restriction.

    And yes, it’s making money for the reason I described. You have a few people willing to pay $10 a trip one way. That’s even more lucrative than BART which has a 50% fare box recovery ratio…

  9. synonymouse
    May 24th, 2015 at 21:10
    #9

    Gradually the tech firms are putting their money into electric car R&D, something you did not see until very recently. This is PBRail’s real competition. On the direct route too, thanks to the Division of Highways. The Tejon Ranch cannot do anything to eff with I-5.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/24/us-daimler-qualcomm-connectedcar-idUSKBN0O80QS20150524

    Eric Reply:

    Electric cars are totally irrelevant to the question of HSR vs driving. An electric car is just like a regular car, except with shorter range.

    Maybe you were thinking of self-driving cars, which might make the drive more tolerable than at present.

    Zorro Reply:

    Yep, a car on the road, is just another car on the road, power plant type be damned, the traffic congestion will be just as bad and the freeways will still be parking lots..

    Nathanael Reply:

    To play devil’s advocate, it’s a lot more comfortable sitting stalled in traffic if everyone is driving an electric car. The electric car isn’t shaking. There are no fumes….

    It’s still pretty slow and tedious, but it’s not as brain-murdering as sitting in traffic in a fuel-burner.

    Eric Reply:

    When they talk about 6 hour LA-SF trips, that’s with no traffic. I can’t begin to imagine the horror of making that trip with significant stop-and-go traffic along the way.

    synonymouse Reply:

    More capacity will be added for automated running.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes the Ford and the GM pavillions at the 1964 World’s Fair had lovely movies about how our highways will be uncongested reeaaaaal soon when they get automated.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yeah right, and it’ll be cheaper than building HSR.

    les Reply:

    I wonder if they’ll have such a thing as DWI with self-driving cars. On a train you can’t.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m having visions in my head of a self-driving car whose fuel mix contains too much ethanol being charged with a DUI.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are missing the point. Every tech development applicable to electric cars will help over time to increase market share. For a hundred years the electric car was off the radar, no doubt to the great satisfaction of the petroleum lobby. And others, such as the repair trade, which much simpler and more durable electric cars will really mess with. Now all that has changed.

    They will just add more capacity to cope with the number of vehicles and metering will rule the day. But politicians love to build roads and the voters approve. PBRail downgraded to a tertiary route will succumb to darwinian selection. The design error here is tantamount to the fiasco of the Jerry & Willie Bridge and BART broad gauge. PB does not have the clout to get the good alignment, but the highway lobby wails on the Tejon Ranch.

    datacruncher Reply:

    I suspect there will be consumer driving behavior changes as government moves to a tax per mile driven to pay for roads. There are few other choices to replace the gasoline taxes avoided by electric vehicles and choices like a flat fee annual road tax won’t get past voters.

    When vehicle owners receive a tax bill directly tied to the miles they drove in their electric car, most won’t think about it paying for the roads they are using. Instead they will think about ways to cut the miles driven to reduce their future tax paid.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Fuel used is a rough approxiamation of miles driven and doesn’t require a complex infrastructure to implement.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nope. Adding more capacity to roads is not affordable and is extremely unpopular. You haven’t been paying attention to the dynamics of the ‘highway revolts’. NOBODY wants wider roads. Nobody.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (You thought NIMBY reactions to rail were loud… listen to people who don’t want widened Death Roads in their front yards…)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Marin County, Sonoma County

    Eric Reply:

    What they do instead is build brand new exurbs with new freeways in them. Perfectly acceptable politically, and worse for society and the environment.

    synonymouse Reply:

    At Palmdale and environs.

  10. jimsf
    May 25th, 2015 at 10:03
    #10

    I don’t think drilling should stop. We need the oil and the jobs.

  11. Emmanuel
    May 25th, 2015 at 14:07
    #11

    Drilling won’t ever stop. It has too many well-paying jobs. All hell would break loose if those were suddenly gone. Our best bet is to produce oil and never actually use it in California. Just refine it and export it right away.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If it gets burned in Nevada the pollutants just blow back into California ( when the wind is right ). If it gets burned in China the pollutants just blow back into California ( when the wind is right ). After a few years of floating around in the atmosphere they blow back to California sooner or later.

  12. StevieB
    May 25th, 2015 at 18:49
    #12

    Refugio State Beach is not an example of a pristine area. It is heavily landscaped for automobile visitors with asphalt roads and parking lots, concrete walkways, groomed lawns, non-native canary island date palm and mexican fan palms trees. It is extensively developed parkland and quite artificial.

  13. Anandakos
    May 27th, 2015 at 00:47
    #13

    Whoa, dude, that’s pretty radical. Are you saying you want to export the risk that powers California’s 30 or so million cars? Well that’s nice, but you can be pretty certain that the companies producing the oil in those import tankers are less conscientious about not harming the environment than are American companies.

    So the end result may be just more spills.

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