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High-Speed Trees vs. Farm Trees

We will let millions of trees die because of the drought and the zero allocation of water to farms. But, we will plant thousands of trees to offset high-speed rail greenhouse gas emmissions?

May 08, 2014

Although high-speed rail is supposed to help reduce greenhouse gas emmissions in the long run, it will increase them while being built in the short term. This is a problem for the Governor's plan to use $250-million of cap-and-trade auction revenues. “We find using cap-and-trade auction revenues for high-speed rail may not maximize greenhouse gas reductions, there currently is not a funding plan to complete the project’s initial operating segment, it is unclear how much cap-and-trade revenue will actually be available for high-speed rail in the future, and bond funds approved in Proposition 1A for high-speed rail currently face legal risks,” says the report by Mac Taylor to the Legislature. "Second, the construction of the project would actually generate GHG emissions of 30,000 metric tons over the next several years,” Mr. Taylor’s report says.

Never fear. The high-speed railroaders always have an answer. According to an article in the Central Valley Business Times, "He notes that the rail authority plans to offset the emissions with an urban forestry program that proposes to plant thousands of trees in the Central Valley." Isn't this a great idea? We have a problem. We will let millions of trees die because of the drought and the zero allocation of water to farms. But, we will plant thousands of trees to offset high-speed rail greenhouse gas emmissions? I guess the farmer's trees won't do the job. The high-speed trees must be a special kind of tree, an environmental tree, an offset tree. Won't these trees also need water? Wonder where they'll get it. Must be some kind of high-speed tree water bank.


 

LAO faults governor’s funding hopes for bullet train

SACRAMENTO

• Criticizes budget assumptions

• “We recommend that the Legislature withhold action on the Governor’s high-speed rail proposals”


Gov. Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail budget proposals are being criticized in a report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.


“We find using cap-and-trade auction revenues for high-speed rail may not maximize greenhouse gas reductions, there currently is not a funding plan to complete the project’s initial operating segment, it is unclear how much cap-and-trade revenue will actually be available for high-speed rail in the future, and bond funds approved in Proposition 1A for high-speed rail currently face legal risks,” says the report by Mac Taylor to the Legislature.


Mr. Taylor says the governor’s budget proposes $250 million in cap-and-trade auction revenue to support the development of the high-speed rail system. But, he says, just building the rail system creates its own greenhouse gas emission issues.


His report says the high-speed rail project would not contribute significant greenhouse gas reductions before 2020, which is the statutory target for reaching 1990 emissions levels as required by state law.


“This is because … plans for the high-speed rail system indicate that the first phase of the project will not be operational until 2022. Second, the construction of the project would actually generate GHG emissions of 30,000 metric tons over the next several years,” Mr. Taylor’s report says.


He notes that the rail authority plans to offset the emissions with an urban forestry program that proposes to plant thousands of trees in the Central Valley.


“We also note that … emission estimates for construction do not include emissions associated with the production of construction materials, which suggests that the amount of emission requiring mitigation could be much higher than currently planned,” the LAO’s report says.


The report suggests that the Legislature

• Require the governor to provide a complete funding plan for high-speed rail. “We recommend that the Legislature require the administration and HSRA to provide a funding plan that identifies all the funding sources (including cap-and-trade auction revenues) by amount and year” that would be used to complete the initial operating segment, a stretch of track from the Madera area to north of Bakersfield. “As such, the plan should detail how the administration intends to address the $21 billion shortfall identified by HSRA. The requested funding plan would help the Legislature in its deliberations on the Governor’s funding proposals for high-speed rail.

• Withhold action on various proposals. Pending the receipt of the funding plan, “we recommend that the Legislature withhold action on the Governor’s high-speed rail proposals.”

• Weigh options for use of cap-and-trade auction revenue. “As we recommended in our recent report on the administration’s cap-and-trade auction revenue expenditure plan, we recommend that the Legislature consider a full array of options for the use of cap-and-trade auction revenue funds to help achieve the goals of AB 32 and meet legislative priorities.


If it’s built, the full bullet train system would have about 800 miles of track and link the Bay Area and Sacramento with Los Angeles and San Diego using bullet trains that could travel at speeds of over 200 miles per hour through the Central Valley.

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