Saturday, June 14, 2014

High-speed rail: Doubling down on dumb

Governor Brown still working on Daddy issues

Governor Brown and a compliant legislature are doubling down on the dumb high-speed rail project by using cap-and-trade money to keep the project on tenuous life-support. The Legislative Analyst on that idea:

We also find that some proposed activities would not contribute significant [greenhouse gas]GHG reductions before 2020, which is the statutory target for reaching 1990 emissions levels. For example, plans for the high-speed rail system indicate that the first phase of the project will not be operational until 2022. Moreover, the construction of the project would actually generate GHG emissions of 30,000 metric tons over the next several years. The [High-Speed Rail Authority]HSRA plans to offset these emissions with an urban forestry program that proposes to plant thousands of trees in the Central Valley. We also note that HSRA’s GHG emission estimates for construction do not include emissions associated with the production of construction materials, which suggests that the amount of emissions requiring mitigation could be much higher than currently planned. Therefore, it is possible that the construction of the [Initial Operating Segment]IOS may result in a net increase in GHG emissions, even when accounting for proposed offsets.

As critics have noted, "The fact that GHG emission reductions from high speed rail will be exceedingly costly and contrary to the spirit of AB32 is an indicator that AB32 could be deteriorating into just another Sacramento pork-barrel program." (emphasis added)

Jerry Brown is apparently still working out his Daddy issues:

Jerry Brown disclosed he has always had the fantasy about having a high-speed train in California ever since his father took him on train ride when he was a little boy. Brown actually referred to the train as his choo-choo train several times during the visit.

But Brown's father had a record of real accomplishment that Jerry's push for the train to nowhere as his legacy project can't possibly match. The project is still unlikely to be built, since even $250 million is not a significant amount of money for a project that, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office, is still $21 billion short just to build the Initial Operating Segment. History will instead pronounce Jerry Brown a dummy for pushing this ruinously expensive project.

The only question is, How much more money will be wasted on this stupid project before it's scrapped?

A new legal challenge was filed on the adequacy of the state's environmental review of the project (see the filing here).

See Why Cap & Trade Funds Cannot Be Used To Finance High-Speed Rail In California for a thorough analysis of the cap and trade issue.

See also Transdef for litigation links.