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Sunday Train has covered the California HSR project on a number of occasions in the past. However, there was no special attention given to what was widely covered at the time as the "end of California HSR", when a judge ruled that the proposed Business Plan did not meet the terms of the Prop1A(2008) which governed the sale of much of the $9m in state bond authority which had passed in 2008. The Sacramento Bee covered the issue at the time, including the appeal of the ruling to the Supreme Court.

And the reason the Sunday Train did not cover that court judgement is IANDL (I Aint No Dang Lawyer), so I was waiting to see what actually happened with respect to funding for the project. And now it appears to me that funding for the original segment from north of Fresno to the outskirts of Bakersfield has been secured, with the news that part of the Budget deal has secured Cap and Trade funding for the HSR project.

More on what this means, below the fold.

Funding Construction & Operating Segments and All That

OK, first, what was the economics behind the legal issue the California HSR Authority (CHSRA) was facing? Its the basic threshold problem for intercity passenger rail. It is feasible for "bullet train" HSR (conventionally a train operating faster than 125mph, though the first "bullet trains" were actually 100mph) operating on a wide range of intercity corridors to get sufficient patronage to run without operating subsidies.

However, that is not for just any alignment. That is so long as there is sufficient population along the corridor and so long as at least one end has a sufficiently strong anchor. In the California context, that translates into viable HSR corridors from San Diego to LA, LA through Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley, San Francisco through to Bakersfield in the San Joaquin Valley, and San Francisco through to Sacramento.

And so when you look at the planned California HSR alignment, what do you see? A "double Y" formation supporting LA / San Diego, LA / SF via the San Joaquin Valley, LA / Sacramento via the San Joaquin Valley and a supplementary connector for SF / Sacramento.

The threshold problem is that the first phase is the LA Basin to Bay Area part of the route matrix connected via the San Jaoquin Valley backbone, and both the LA Basin and Bay Area have difficult geography to get through to connect to the San Joaquin Valley backbone.

And this becomes a legal issue because the Prop1A(2008) to provide $9b in bond funding for HSR (and some extra for complementary rail transport) includes a range of measures to protect the bond authority from being raided. In particular, it was supposed to be protected from being used to provide capital subsidies to subsidized commuter rail service, or subsidized Amtrak California intercity rail services. It was supposed to be for "genuine HSR", and the demand that it run without operating subsidy is one that a well-designed HSR system can readily meet, but which commuter rail or conventional intercity rail would struggle to meet.

Prop1A(2008) was passed on the ballot in the same election that saw President Obama elected, and it was shortly after that the one-off $8b in HSR funding was included in the Stimulus II legislation, the "ARRA". Then-Governor Schwarzenegger applied for HSR funding, promising a 50:50 state match ~ the highest level of state match allowed under Prop1A(2008).

That was, of course, a reckless decision, since there was no way to run a self-supporting service on the Construction Segment originally awarded from a bit north of Fresno to a bit south, and even after that initial Construction Segment was extended, it still was not enough to offer a self-sustaining service on that Initial Construction Segment alone.

The reason that the FRA is willing to fund a partial operating segment is that California already has passenger rail in the San Joaquin Valley, the Amtrak-CA San Jaoquin, running three times a day each way. So the FRA was willing to fund an "Initial Construction Segment" on the promise of a down payment on building an HSR system which, at the same time, could as a back-up contingency be used to substantially upgrade the Amtrak-CA service.

But that is a Federal Rule about "independent utility" when funding parts of a corridor. Prop1A(2008) don't care about no "independent utility": it specifies a self-sustaining Initial Operating Service to authorize release of the bulk of Prop1A(2008) bonds.

And the CHSRA Business Plan seemed to be "we'll seek additional Federal and State funding to fund building the balance of the Initial Operating Service, once this Initial Construction Segment is completed." Which, from what I understand (though, remember, IANDL), is what the court ruling said wasn't good enough.

To be specific, their projected cumulative cost for an Initial Operating Service, from north of Fresno to the somewhere in the general area of Burbank in the San Fernando Valley in the LA Basin, is about $31b. That's the threshold test for the Prop1A(2008) funding ~ except for an amount allowed to be used for preliminary program costs, most of the bonds are under a condition of a Business Plan for establishing a service that can be run without operating subsidies.

However, the Initial Construction Segment has a cost of $6b, with $3.3b coming from Federal funding and $2.6b in Prop1A(2008) bond funding. So while the legal fight is over the $31b in Initial Operating Service project cost, the "breaking ground" fight is over $2.4b in state funding to match $3.3b in already authorized, appropriated, and awarded Federal funds. And it is that fight which appears to be settled with this deal.

 
Funding HSR from Cap and Trade funds

The Sunday Train has addressed the issue of funding HSR with cap and trade funds, back in April of 2012, well before the court ruling threw the project into a state of uncertainty at the beginning of this year. I reprinted that essay in March of this year, under the title: Sunday Train: Cap&Trade Funds should help finance the California HSR. So I don't suppose there is much ground for uncertainty on where I stand on Cap and Trade funds helping to finance the California HSR project  

To summarize, the issue raised by critics of the use of Cap & Trade funds for capital subsidy for an HSR project is the efficiency of the use of funds. The argument is that the Cap & Trade funds should be devoted to projects with the greatest "bang for the buck" in terms of reducing GHG emissions.

The first issue with this is defining what the "bang" is for projects that serve multiple goals. If, overall, Cap & Trade funds provide 20% of the funding for a project, and that project is being funded from other sources in service of other goals, then in effect you get 100% of the "bang" for only 20% of the project cost "bucks".

So if the "full cost" of emissions reduction is, say, $250/ton, then the effective cost is $50/ton in the example (20% of $250) ... and could range from $25/ton if Cap & Trade funds contribute 10% of the budget, up to $125/ton if Cap & Trade funds contributed a whopping 50% of the budget for a multi-purpose project.

Or, working from a different direction, if the "full cost" of GHG emissions is five times the amount you can justify, then the GHG reduction funding should not fund more than one-fifth of the project cost.

That leads to the second issue, which is setting the target emissions reduction for a project to receive funding. Unless we do enough to avoid climate catastrophe at the level of the collapse of our nation's ability to function as a coherent national society and economy, then the efficiency of the investments we do make is basically pointless.

If we collect together all the most efficient ways of reducing CO2 and doing "enough" requires a carbon price of $60/ton, then that sets our threshold efficiency for a long term project. If "doing enough" requires a carbon price of $90/ton, then that sets our threshold efficiency for a long term project. As described in that piece, given estimates in that range, I settle halfway in the middle at a notional carbon price threshold of $75/ton.

The objection that will be raised by the kind of short-sighted, blinkered analysis performed by the California Legislative Analyst Office is that the Cap and Trade fund can find plenty of investments that are more efficient than that. But that is on a false specification of "plenty". Plenty to exhaust the Cap and Trade funding, to be sure. But not plenty to avoid climate catastrophe.

Simply focusing on getting the maximum efficiency in the context of not doing enough to solve the problem is refusing to make long-term fixes because short-term band-aids are quicker and cheaper.

 
On Those Grounds, Does The Budget Deal Pass Muster?

So, lets run the numbers. The California HSR is projected to be a $68b project:

  • which will have a full-cost price of CO2 reduction of $250/ton to $400/ton.
  • At an allowed $75/ton for the CO2 reduction,
  • that means that the Cap and Trade funds should be allowed to fund from 18.75% to 30% of the budget cost, or
  • Cap and Trade should be allowed to fund $12.7b to $20.4b of the project.

The proposal to use 25% of the Cap and Trade funds is expected to generate $750m to $1b annually, so taking the $12b more conservative estimate of ridership and corresponding CO2 reductions, that is from 12 to 17 years of funding at the estimated $750m to $1b annually.

The funds required to build the Initial Construction Segment are $2.4b, which is 3.6% of the total project cost. So assuming $400/ton at full cost from CO2 funding, just using Cap & Trade funds for that segment alone would have an effective cost of $15/ton.

And so the budget deal means that the Initial Construction Segment can go ahead. $750m to $1b per year from its share of Cap and Trade funds is ample to either fund on a current basis or finance through borrowing $2.4b.

How much more it should fund ... well, since we will know more by the time the question arises, that gets into the fact that The Future's Uncertain (but the End Is Always Near).

 
What if the Future Is Uncertain

I remember getting a research paper on time on a topic in Intermediate Macroeconomics in which the student was talking about the Post Keynesians. The Post Keynesians lay great stress on the fact that we don't just face risks in financial markets, we face genuine intrinsic uncertainty. "Risk" is like the odds of rolling a six with a balanced six-sided die. True "uncertainty" is like the odds of rolling a six when you don't know whether the person is holding a six sided, ten-sided, twenty-sided or four sided die, and you don't know how interested the person is in actuall rolling the die anyway.

And the first sentence of the student's paper was, "Among all the uncertain things in the world, the future surely ranks near the top of the list."

So, what about uncertainty?

What if we are in reality facing a future in in which an effective carbon price of under $15/ton is enough to get the job done?

Well, that is a future in which we are much wealthier than present information suggests that we will be, and the wealthier we are in a given future scenario, the less of a problem it is to spend money on GHG emissions reduction in a less than perfectly efficient way.

It is if we are facing a future in which the required effective carbon price is much higher than we now expect that it becomes crucial to not "waste" our carbon reduction funds, and in that future, putting $12b to $20b of Carbon Emissions Reduction funding toward HSR is a quite sensible use of CO2 emissions reduction funding.

What if there is no more Federal Funding coming?

This is the kind of issue that was the challenge in releasing Prop1A(2008) bond funds. The Business Plan assumes over 50% of funding from Federal sources. What if there are no Federal sources?

But this is where funding the state match for the Initial Operating Segment out of Cap & Trade funds is such a strategic step forward. Governor Schwarzennegger was truly reckless in promising to use so much of the Prop1A(2008) bond funding at a 50:50 match. For one thing, the Stimulus II HSR funding did not actually require matching funds, since it was part of a Stimulus package and during an economic crisis, state governments are often in a cash crunch. But even for normal Federal funding of intercity-distance passenger transport, an 80:20 Federal:Local match is more common, and for some Interstate spending its a 90:10 match.

Look at the projected $31b cost for the Initial Operating segment. Suppose the $6b for the Initial Construction Segment is not financed with Prop1A(2008) funds. And suppose that $3b are equipment costs that are financed privately by the operator that wins the franchise to operate the service. That leaves $22b to cover.

At an 80:20 match, $22b would call for a $4.4b state contribution ~ well within the reach of the Prop1A(2008) bond authorization.

Which gives a strategy for addressing the uncertainty of Federal Funding. First, build the Initial Construction Segment. That will not be finished after the end of the current administration, so the current House refusal to fund HSR as a refusal to allow President Obama a "win" will no longer be a political issue.

And then freaking win the Federal Funding. This is not forecasting volcanic eruptions or the sunspot cycle we are talking about. This is political decision making in the halls of Congress. When there is an opening to win an adequate level of Federal Funding to allow the Initial Operating Service to be funded ... take it and get it funded.

Normally the advice would be to use bond authorizations, rather than holding them in reserve, because bond authorizations are in "face value" dollar amounts, and inflation eats away at their buying power over time. However, because of Gov. Schwarzennegger's reckless promise of a 50% state match, that's not true in this case. In this case, it makes sense to use current state revenues to fund the State Match of the relatively inexpensive per-mile Initial Construction Segment, and keep the bond authorization in reserve to use with better leverage, to try to fund the more expensive project of getting an effective HSR corridor down into the LA Basin.

What if that fight is lost?

If we cannot ever win a fight in getting Federal funding for useful investment in sustainably powered intercity transport ... well, in that scenario we're probably not going to survive as a coherent national economy or national society.

And if California or the West Coast is trying to make it on its own, every bit of high quality legacy infrastructure that it can power with sustainable, renewable energy from West Coast Solar, Wind and other sustainable, renewable resources is going to be that much more valuable.

In the future where we lose the fight to get our national government to take steps to defend our country from the catastrophic consequences of our own current action, there will be no regret at all in that future California for any investment in sustainable transport that it inherits.

 
Conclusions and Conversations

As always, any topic in sustainable transport is on-topic in the Sunday Train. So feel free to take about CO2 emissions reduction, energy independence, suburban retrofit and reversing the cancer of sprawl over our diverse ecosystems, or the latest iPhone or Android app to map you bike ride. Whatever.

The Sunday Train doesn't really leave the station until you jump in and join the conversation so ... All Aboard!

Originally posted to Sunday Train on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 10:47 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, California politics, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Future's Right Up There At The Top Of The List (29+ / 0-)

    All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

    by BruceMcF on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 10:46:16 PM PDT

  •  I strongly approve use of cap and trade $ (15+ / 0-)

    for Cal HSR. I'm the chair of the Cal Dem Party's environmental caucus. This is my personal opinion, not a caucus position, but the Cal Dem Party platform approves HSR.

  •  Not a Californian, but definitely an HSR booster. (7+ / 0-)

    I know that many of my CA friends are profoundly disappointed that the first leg of the project will connect two locations that painfully few Californians with cash in their pockets are at all interested in traveling to, from, or between. There's a palpable fear that this will all end up A Train To Nowhere, and thus a costly and influential failure.

    Here's hoping that won't be the case. Pushing it through to at least Oakland/Sacramento in the north, or LA in the south...or even better, both...will be crucial to avoiding this important and farsighted project becoming a 'partial birth abortion' at impatient legislators' hands.

    No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

    by DocDawg on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:16:00 AM PDT

    •  Yes, there is indeed a lot of ... (11+ / 0-)

      ... people who have been conned by the "Train to Nowhere" talking point developed by Big Oil and the other opponents of the system.

      Of course, a project of this length does have to start somewhere, and it would have a much higher risk of actually being a "Train to Nowhere" as far as intercity transport goes if they started construction in the LA Basin or the Bay Area, since construction is expensive per mile in urban areas, and there'd be an extremely high risk of ending up building nothing but an over-engineered commuter rail system.

      The fact is that the first construction corridor gets 1/5 of the full SF/LA corridor done for under 1/10 of the total cost, and is an essential first step to actually meeting the demand built into Prop1A(2008) that the bonds finance a service that can run without operating subsidy, so starting here is the first step most likely to lead to connecting Fresno & Bakersfield to either the LA Basin or the Bay Area.

      And, pragmatically, given balance of power politics in California, once a service is running without operating subsidy to one side of the full corridor, then sooner or later California will complete the construction to the other side of the full corridor.

      And, to be sure, we live in an age where shallow surface impressions, backed by messaging money from parties with interests in the public being misled, all too often carry more clout than the reality of the situation.

      Some people react to that with, "so if they had done it this way, they would not be facing this messaging problem" ... as if the opponents do not have ample resources to attack the project for any original starting point. But, yes, if they had started from one end or the other, the same Big Oil funded propaganda outlets would have developed an anti-HSR message for that Initial Construction Segment, focusing on how few miles were obtained, and whichever of the LA Basin or SF Area they started work in, a heavy dose of, "this is really taking your money to build an over-engineered commuter rail line for them" directed to the other one.

      And, of course, proposing to build something with a much higher risk of actually ending up as nothing but an over-engineered commuter line would have likely meant California missing out on the $3.3b in Federal dollars it's already won for the project.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 06:34:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent rejoinder (6+ / 0-)

        Thanks for arming me with some good talking points I can use to respond to my more discouraged CA friends.

        No person is free except in the freedom of other persons, and that man's only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy his place -- a much humbler place than we have been taught to think -- in the order of creation. (Wendell Berry)

        by DocDawg on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 07:38:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem with the CA HSR side ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee, xaxnar

          ... is there aren't any professional propagandists being paid substantial money to develop pro-HSR messaging.

          That's why before ground is broken is the time when a big project is most vulnerable ... once people are actually building the initial construction corridor, then there will be strong vested interests in construction continuing that will start to push back.

          Seriously, any propaganda mill (aka "think tank") worth its salt would have "the first construction segment gets us 1/5th of the corridor finished for 1/10th of the full project cost", and "the first construction segment is a 220mph corridor, so it saves the state the expense of a separate test track for the bullet trains" on the fingertips of half of the newspaper reporters on this issue in the state.

          But propaganda mills spread messaging that they are paid to spread.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:51:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  good point, but what about developer interests (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BruceMcF

            they have a pretty big mouth, and except for the little water problem, development in the valley is going to be massively aided by HSR, you'd think they'd be helping out?

            This machine kills Fascists.

            by KenBee on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 11:45:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not until ground is broken. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KenBee

              Developers will deploy propaganda in favor of the rail project when they have a project in the works that stands to benefit substantially from the project successfully completing ...

              ... and it would be highly speculative to invest in a project with a value that rises or falls with success of the HSR project until after ground has broken on the corridor that will see the establishment of the service they are expecting to benefit from.

              SO the developers aren't even going to get on board in a big way until the first Construction segment is underway. They aren't likely start coming on board on the pro-HSR PR until the second construction segment is funded and underway, since that is the one which will conclude with a ribbon cutting on the Initial Operating Service.

              But there's likely to be some support from property developers in the process of pushing to win Congressional funding of the second construction segment ... since getting government support for a transport project that opens up property development opportunities is a strategy they are quite familiar with.

              All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

              by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 02:16:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  In addition to Bruce's excellent answer (6+ / 0-)

      I would encourage to you consider that right now if you ride Amtrak California's San Joaquin trains through Fresno, they will be FULL.

      The first leg may end at two tiny towns you don't know, but it spans Fresno, and we'll get the most hunk of track for our start that way.

      Keep in mind that currently this part of the state is served only by Hwy 99, and the alternative to HSR isn't nothing, it's rebuilding 99 and adding more lanes at substantial state expense.

      Also keep in mind that there are major California public universities on this route - CSU Fresno, CSU Bakersfield, UC Merced - just as a start.

      I am looking forward to even the first segment being open. It will be an American milestone.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:37:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Getting started is the critical thing (7+ / 0-)

    Until ground is actually broken, until money starts getting spent, until orders for equipment and supplies get placed, HSR will be like the weather: everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything.

    Except now we HAVE to start doing things about the weather, and this is one piece of that puzzle.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 06:29:23 AM PDT

  •  E.U. Carbon Price = $0.70/ton (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep, xaxnar
    So, lets run the numbers. The California HSR is projected to be a $68b project:

    -which will have a full-cost price of CO2 reduction of $250/ton to $400/ton.

    -At an allowed $75/ton for the CO2 reduction,

    -that means that the Cap and Trade funds should be allowed to fund from 18.75% to 30% of the budget cost, or

    -Cap and Trade should be allowed to fund $12.7b to $20.4b of the project.

    What gives?
    $75 per ton is more than 100x $0.70 per ton.
    •  What gives is exactly what I said in the essay ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      ... its a critical analytical mistake to confuse the Carbon Price under a system that is totally unable to prevent climate catastrophe with the Carbon Price that would be sufficient to do the job.

      "How much does Carbon cost in a systemt that pretends to be aimed at getting CO2 emissions under control while failing to actually have a significant impact and so allowing our industrial economy to continue its headlong rush to climate catastrophe and collapse" ...
      ... is not the question that should determine the threshold value of CO2 emissions reduction in any sensible policy aimed at actually investing in real long term solutions to the problem.

      The EU presently has several countries running deliberate "austerity" budgets and so with economies even more stagnant than ours or in recession ... some countries are in full blow depression.

      So of course their cap and trade price is a tiny fraction of the full economic cost of carbon emissions ... because they have set the cap assuming an EU economy that is "growing normally", not an EU economy that a substantial fraction of the EU governments are actively sabotaging.

      At present, the bulk of their actual CO2 emissions are being done as a side effect of "lets wreck our economy and throw millions of people out of work", so their Cap and Trade system doesn't have any heavy lifting to do, given the inadequate reduction targets programmed into their cap.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 10:02:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Have Supported Passenger Rail - - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RainyDay

        Probably far before you got out of high school.
        But the California High Speed Rail project -
        Is a giant boondoggle - which will only harm passenger rail.

        Fresno is hardly New York City, Washington, DC, or Boston.
        Even if the whole system could be built out quickly  to LA and SF -
        The numbers are highly questionable - -
        Passenger load, pricing, costs.

        But a segment from Fresno to Bakersfield?
        Two small cities where cars are worshipped??
        My hope is that construction does not begin -
        Because the more done the greater the harm.

        •  I see assertions (0+ / 0-)

          but no actual arguments and evidence. Keeping in mind the crucial importance of shifting from fossil-fuel based transportation to electricity produced by solar/wind/geothermal in order to blunt the negative impact of the climate change already underway, I can't see that this could possibly be the boondoggle you describe, but OK I am willing to consider your position. Where is the detailed analysis comparing California HSR to other alternatives? Write a diary presenting your case...if you have one.

          "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

          by Reston history guy on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 12:11:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ummmm - (0+ / 0-)

            Something like 6% of electricity comes from solar & wind - - and electricity is only about 1/2 of U.S. energy use - the other half is transportation which is almost exclusively petroleum based. So only 3% of total energy is solar & wind. If CHSRA does ever get up and running, which I doubt, then its power will come from whatever the electric mix - the largest new component is gas.

            •  Your conclusion does not follow from your ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... premises.

              First, the CA HSR is not running generically anywhere in the US, its running in California, so the relevant power options are the California options, not the generic US mix.

              And Second, so long as there is sufficient capability to add new renewable power capacity to provide the power required by the service, and the CHSRA contracts to obtain all renewable energy from non-legacy sources, then whether the average mix in California is 1% Wind and Solar or 20% Wind and Solar is not all that relevant, given that 100% of the CHSRA's power will come from renewable sources.

              All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

              by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 01:32:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sounds Like - (0+ / 0-)

                Like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

                Given modern energy exchanges and regional transfers -
                no amigo - at least the regional mix is what operates.

                And if, technically, CHSRA uses all of the available wind energy, then what net good does it do?

                <<<>>>

                So, you are suggesting we drop at least $68 billion for a shell game?

                •  In what sense is it borrowing from Peter to ... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... pay Paul? When you draw up a proper contract for the supply of renewable power from new renewable energy capacity, there is a steep penalty attached to the other part not investing in sufficient new renewable energy production to produce the energy you are consuming.

                  This is, of course, a long recognized issue raised back in the 90's as people tried to work out how to allow people to elect to pay for sustainable power in order to improve the market for sustainable power. Its not like the CHSRA is breaking any new ground here. And with over a decade of experience with both effective arrangements and ineffective arrangements, there are evidence-based opportunities to raise the alarm if they end up making an ineffective arrangement instead of an effective one.

                  All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                  by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 10:10:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  The Fresno to Bakersfield complaint ... (4+ / 0-)

          ... is confusing construction segments and operating segments.

          The two viable Initial Operating Segments would either be from the San Fernando Valley through to Fresno, or from San Jose through to Bakersfield. The CHSRA has adopted the first as their target.

          There is no "Fresno to Bakersfield" Initial Operating Service option, so objections to operating segments between Fresno and Bakersfield are addressing a fabricated story initially spread by propagandists and then echoed by those they have successfully confused.

          As far as construction segments, there are five basic construction segments for the Anaheim/LAUS through to SJ/SFTransbay corridor to choose from as the first construction segment:

          (1) Expensive urban corridor from SF Transbay to the edge of the Bay Area
          (2) Expensive corridor through rough terrain to transition into the San Joaquin Valley to the point where the LA/SF corridor will junction with the LA/Sac corridor
          (3) Inexpensive corridor through flat terrain from north of Fresno to just north of Bakersfield
          (4) Very expensive corridor through very rough terrain to transition from the San Joaquin Valley to the LA Basin
          (5) Expensive urban corridor from the lower San Fernando Valley through LA Union Station to the Anaheim terminus.

          The two viable Initial Operating Services boil down to a choice between (2)+(3), and (4)+(3).

          (3) on its own is not an Initial Operating Segment, so the "Train to Nowhere" talking point is either calling the Bay Area or the LA Basin "nowhere".

          As far as the spurious notion that you need two big anchors, that was disproved by the French with their first big successful HSR corridor from Paris to Lyon, given that Lyon and Fresno are similar sized cities.

          And in terms of timelines and sequencing, you need to have some extensive portion of (3) finished before you can start running any Initial Operating Service, to put the HST's through regulatory approvals.

          So its no surprise that in terms of providing substantial funding, the Federal Dept. of Transportation was only willing to fund (3) as an initial construction segment.

          That is the one with the lowest risk of not ever getting use for HSR, since it is part of either alternative viable Initial Operating Service. It is also the one that allows earlier regulatory approval of vehicles, which is absolutely essential to gaining private finance, as private finance is primarily offered for the rolling stock and offered by the rolling stock vendors ... and so you need a range of rolling stock with regulatory approval in order to have competition between HST vendors.

          The arguments against having that (3) as the first segment built, as the first construction stage to be followed by either (4) or (2), are:

          (1) Emotional. "Ewww, who wants to go to Bakersfield."
          (2) Raiding the dedicated HSR funds for non-HSR purposes: "I want the money spent were we can use it to run commuter trains."

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 02:08:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, Bruce - - (0+ / 0-)

            I've done historical research in the Valley - -
            I love the Valley and its culture.

            The issue is lack of ridership.

            •  again, more unsupported assertions (0+ / 0-)

              Given population and economic growth estimates for the next 40 years, there will be a need to provide extensive additional transportation capacity between LA and SF. Building nothing means that highways and airports already choked with traffic become impassible. Building new highway lanes and new airports would, I strongly suspect, cost far far more than 68 billion for conveying the same number of people. If you disagree, again feel free to write a diary proving this. So HSR is the best of the actual alternatives.
                   When you consider that it also offers benefits to the communities in between LA and SF, that it will be run on electricity rather than fossil fuel, and that it will be far less polluting (CO2 aside) than cars or jets...this would seem to be a no brainer. As Bruce points out, the French TGV system has been so profitable and has made such a difference to the nation, that they are rapidly expanding the LGV lines throughout the country. When true HSR comes to California, other states will demand it.

              "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

              by Reston history guy on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:30:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hey, Mr. History Guy (0+ / 0-)

                Let's see a few references.
                Ya know - - like sourcing your opinions?

                CHSRA is absurdly expensive -
                And is likely to be a huge capital drain on other initiatives.
                Many climate activists are leery about CHSRA's claim on climate funds.

                I would like to hear someone say -
                "I don't care if it's 10X more expensive per mile than freeways. The cost is still justified."
                Then, at least, there would be acknowledgement of costs.

                Money doesn't grow on trees -
                And this project will hoover up everything.
                And that's WITHOUT cost overruns.

                There is no better plan to destroy passenger rail for the next generation than CHSRA.

                There's lots of info out there for a person willing to look -
                information from multiple perspectives.
                Ultimately, it simply does not add up.
                Not even remotely.

                •  I would take it at 2x the $$ cost of freeways (0+ / 0-)

                  ... because the uncharged cost of sticking to gas power cars running on freeways as our primary means of transport is the end of the US as a coherent national civilization, and I value our country at at least twice the money we put into the roads.

                  But in this case, its not 2x, its less than 1x, so that issue does not arise.

                  All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                  by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:51:34 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Just start building the dang thing! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reston history guy, BruceMcF

    BruceMF - really appreciate the work you did and the detail of the funding.  But to my mind this is a public investment, it doesn't have to pencil out, ever, in terms of paying for itself. Those who want to cry Boondoggle and stop it are probably anti-government to begin with.  China has been dropping high speed rails on it's territory like shit from a goose. They are probably building it faster than they need to as government spending to keep the economy ramped up. I came of age watching NASA do amazing things; then after the shuttle era began I saw the drive for a space station become a multi-decade, ever-ballooning-in-cost project. If we start building the CA HSR now it might just get finished. Otherwise, death by a thousand cuts, and we further strangle our economy here with the failure to maintain and upgrade our infrastucture.  

    We want you to terminate the GOP's command. With extreme prejudice. (from "Utopia Soon")

    by oddmike on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 02:09:10 PM PDT

    •  Don't confuse running without operating .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti

      ... subsidy and a demand that it pay for itself.

      Any transport project in the United States that "pays for itself" involves massive overcharging of the people traveling, because it implies all of the third parties that benefit from the availability of that transport are getting a free ride.

      So its only fair that there be some form of public subsidy to publicly useful transport.

      The question in that case is what kind: construction subsidy, or operating subsidy?

      And for that, step back and look at the big picture. We urgently need far more operating subsidies for more energy efficient local transport than we have come up with a way to provide.

      It is in that context that the ability to provide a construction subsidy to establish an HSR corridor and then be confident the HSR can cover its operating costs is such an advantage. It means that its safe for the Federal government to provide that construction subsidy without worrying about that HSR service having to raid the operating funds of local public transport.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:44:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I appreciate your clarification (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ybruti, BruceMcF

        Perhaps you would be willing to agree it would make economic sense to pull a few hundred million out of the defense budget (which I once read creates fewer jobs then any other government expenditure) and get on with construction of HSR in CA and a few other places with routes that have population densities that would fill up passenger seats.

        We want you to terminate the GOP's command. With extreme prejudice. (from "Utopia Soon")

        by oddmike on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 12:11:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Since the majority of spending ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... in the defense budget makes our national security less secure rather than more secure ...

          ... taking $100b out of the defense budget and printing it up in small bills and putting them in small mason jars, then paying people to bury them so that people without income can survive by digging the jars up ...

          ... would be a better use of money.

          It wouldn't be a productive use of the money, but at least it would cut $100b from the money spent to make things worse.

          So never mind millions.

          $20 billion, $50 billion, $100 billion taken from the Defense budget with 20% spent to carbon neutral intercity transport and 80% spent on carbon neutral local transport would be a big win, since it would be spending less on making things worse, and spending more on making our country more secure.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 08:02:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Let's Run Some Numbers - - (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RainyDay, ban nock, davis90

    Assume:

    That the full project costs $68 billion without cost overruns
       (There hasn't been a major Calif project on budget in years)
    That the federal share is closer to the earlier 50%, not 62%
       (Beyond the HSR grants, there is no fixed federal funding)

    For a state/private bond and investment of $34 billion at an average 4% yield -
    That would require interest payments alone of $1.33 B per year w/o principal.
    That comes to $3.65 million per day in interest payments.
    If the average ticket is $100, you would need 36,500 passengers per day.
    And that does not include shorter, intermediate trips.
    (Round trip airfare - LAX/SFO is often in the $199 range.)
    At 300 passengers per train - we are talking about 120 trains -
    Or 60 trains each day each way.

    Just to pay the interest.

    Not the electricity, not the wages, not the right-of-way rent to Union Pacific, not the equipment, not the maintenance.

    In addition, the assumptions for speed are equal to or exceed those of the French TGV that has decades of experience.  And the occupancy rates exceed those of all airline and high-speed rail studies.

    The numbers do not even come close to breaking even.
    Any Cap & Trade monies used will be going down a black hole.

    What's worse, the failure of CHSRA will cripple passenger rail options for another generation.

    This is a boondoggle of a project -
    Outrageously expensive, poorly designed, and seriously flawed.

    California Legislature Critique -
    http://www.lao.ca.gov/...

    Reason Foundation Critique -
    http://reason.org/...

    •  if capital costs had to be recovered (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oddmike, spacecadet1

      from the users, not only would there not be an Interstate Highway System, there wouldn't be paved highways in America period. Building rail lines, like building highways or airports, is a capital investment society makes in the future. The question is, how much would additional highways and airports cost compared to HSR? How much did I-5 cost in 2014 dollars? Gas taxes don't even cover the full cost of highway maintenance, let alone the full cost of highway construction.
          Will the California HSR--capital costs aside--run an operating surplus? After paying labor costs, utility costs, etc.? Bruce might have the figures at his fingertips, but I would be stunned if CHSR could not be run at a profit.

      "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

      by Reston history guy on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 06:39:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  CHSRA Cost vs Interstate Cost - (0+ / 0-)

        Total Interstate Highway System cost - $129 billion
        Estimated 2011 dollars - $500 billion
        46,726 total miles
        $10.7 million per mile

        http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/...

        So, if one were to multiply the Phase I CHSRA 520 miles by $10.7 - it would come to $5.5 billion. Thus, CHSRA is 13 times more expensive than the equivalent interstate construction.

        Now, I grant you that highway construction in the Bay Area and Los Angeles was expensive, but it was super cheap through the Central Valley. (That's why CHSRA is planning on building its first section in the Vally, as well.) Even if one were to double or triple the cost of some urban miles - remember in 2011 dollars - CHSRA comes out with construction costs ten times greater.

        The numbers are out there if you choose to look.

        •  OK, this is progress (0+ / 0-)

          Now, provide "numbers" on how many additional highway lanes would be needed to transport the millions of passenger-miles that will be needed by 2050 above current levels. Provide hard data, not just hand waving, on how much building that 6 or 8 or 10 lane highway would cost through some of the most expensive real estate in America. Provide some reasoned argument as to how--when we already are facing trillions of dollars in unfunded repair needs on virtually all of the highway bridges in America--when , for reasons Bruce has dealt with in earlier diaries, our ability to finance road repair is failing--we are going to pay for this mega highway. Explain what will happen to the cities it slashes through. Explain why growing shortages of oil and rising fuel costs make it a good idea to build more highways. Include in your cost estimates external costs now borne by the taxpayer such as a huge military presence in the Persian Gulf.
               At that point I might take your criticism seriously. As of now, it appears to be of the old man yelling at clouds variety.

          "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

          by Reston history guy on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 08:30:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Stop Ordering Me Around - (1+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            terrypinder
            Hidden by:
            cville townie

            You clearly know little to nothing.
            And your arrogance and ageism are ugly.

            •  "Provide hard data, not just hand waving," (0+ / 0-)

              ... "At that point I might take your criticism seriously."

              ... is not ordering you around.

              They say what evidence they would accept from your as persuasive. You say what evidence you would accept from them as persuasive. Each side decides whether there is enough common ground on what they accept as evidence to possibly offer evidence that would change the mind of the other, and decide to continue discussing or go their separate ways.

              As a site billing itself as supporter more and better Democrats, its not arrogant to request evidence of a higher standard than the paid propagandizing of the Big Oil funded Reason Foundation.

              All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

              by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 10:19:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Violation of HR Guidelines - (0+ / 0-)

                Since you are in a heated back & forth with me throughout this thread.
                Not to mention pretty darn petty.

                You just don't like the fact that I am opposed to CHSRA.

                •  I just don't like the fact you are opposed ... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... CHSRA? Hell, I don't necessarily support the California HSR Authority.

                  I'll take my HR down, as terry pinder says to, but in this comment you switch from arguing about California HSR and the CHSRA to throwing multiple ad hominem attacks in a single response to Reston history guy.

                  There is an appreciable gain and nothing of substance lost to the site, not even for determined opponents of CA HSR, if that descent into ad hominem argument goes away.

                  All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                  by BruceMcF on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:45:36 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  When Democrats Squander Billions - (0+ / 0-)

                They hand Goppers priceless ammunition for the next election cycle.

              •  that's a bs hr (0+ / 0-)

                I hope you get nailed some day for that kind of shit.

                “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

                by ban nock on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 04:13:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Are you arguing in favor of ... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... descent into ad hominem argument, or are you making the same point that fcvaguy makes?

                  And if the former, what is your case?

                  All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                  by BruceMcF on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:54:43 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Bruce.... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrypinder

                you can't HR in your own diary. Big no-no.

                KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

                by fcvaguy on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 06:52:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  bruce, i uprated johnny because (0+ / 0-)

                you can't HR in your own diary.

                Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

                by terrypinder on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:20:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, I removed my HR ... (0+ / 0-)

                  ... if those are the current rules ... but in a reality based community, those are the among kind of comments which would get hidden.

                  That comment is a trolling mad-lib for when you don't have an empirical response at hand:

                  Subject: "Stop ordering me around" ~ to person who is not ordering you around.

                  {Insert_arrogant_statement}
                  And your arrogance and {insert_discrimination_charge} are ugly.

                  All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

                  by BruceMcF on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:51:43 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Except you are now pretending that ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... diverted air trips are not occurring, when in Spain, which has similar populations, similar population distribution and similar distances between biggest and second biggest population centers as California, trips diverted from air and trips diverted from driving were quite similar.

          Its not just roads that will require additional investment if California maintains dependence on soon to be obsolete transport systems, its also air travel infrastructure.

          Plus a track-mile of HSR has multiple times the transport capacity of a road mile of highway, so a mile to mile comparison understates the road capacity that is no longer required.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:36:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How Much Is $68 Billion? (0+ / 0-)

            First it was $33B when California voters approved the bond money.
            Then it swelled to $100B, then dropped to $68B.

            Those numbers are public record.

            For comparison - CalTrans 2011 budget was $14B.
            It will such the oxygen out of every other transportation initiative.

            •  Most of that is the difference between ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... present value and nominal value. $38b was always stated as the present value cost of the project, while Federal guidelines require cost estimates that apply automatic estimated inflation adjusters to report the sum of the expected current values cost of the project.

              The present value is used in cost benefit analysis, since it is comparing costs and benefits at different points in time, and using present values weighs early costs and benefits more heavily than later costs and benefits.

              Using the Federal accounting for cost benefit analysis would make a benefit that is not experienced for half a century worth far more than a benefit that occurs immediately.

              But rules are rules, so when applying for Federal funds, the cost have to be toted up in "current value" totals that put more weight on costs that occur closer to project completion, because the inflation adjuster just goes steadily higher (and at a faster rater than the actual inflation rate since 2008).

              And then there was the "feature inflation" which is the largest part of the cost blow-outs of most big infrastructure projects ... Judge Kopp, Gov, Schwarzenegger's pick as Chair of the CHSRA, tended to respond to every problem with a "build a viaduct!" response, and was in line to push the project cost past $100b. The $68b was from Gov. Brown stepping in and putting a stop to that waste of public resources, insisting that public local transport authorities and the CHSRA work together on more cost efficient shared corridors for those higher capacity urban 125mph sections of the HSR.

              Judge Kopp's approach is intrinsically wasteful, since at 220mph you need greater time between trains to allow for longer distance of emergency stops. Five minute headways at 220mph is a maximum 12 trains per hour. Three minute headways at 125mph is 20 trains per hour.

              Add on top that individual HSR service typically run at an hourly frequency, sometimes with a half hourly frequency on peak, and if four distinct schedules are sharing the central trunk in the fully built system, that is a functional maximum of eight services per hour (which is why five minute headways are not a binding constraint).

              Set up a blended use system, and instead of being four tracks wide with two for HSR alone and two for all other rail services (local, regional, and Amtrak California), you have a system with two local tracks and two express tracks and ample capacity to put all the trains you can run through the bullet train part of the corridor on the express tracks while still have sufficient separation to allow Amtrak CA and regional Express trains to benefit from the additional capacity available on the Express tracks.

              It required Gov. Brown's intervention to tamp down on Judge Kopp's "throw more concrete at the problem" approach, otherwise the cost would likely have been in excess of $100b. And since that is more expensive than the investment required to provide an equivalent transport capacity with road and air transport, that $100b mark is a point where a lot of support for CHSRA as the less expensive long term transport alternative would fall away.

              Obviously it could cost $19b and the Reason Foundation would claim that it was a boondoggle. Its just that the closer it comes to offering transport capacity at a premium rather than a discount, the more people with real authority are going to be swayed by the Reason Foundation's claim.

              All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

              by BruceMcF on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 09:20:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  But then you cite the Reason Foundation ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... as a source, and when you cite a source that comes to the conclusion that its paid to reach, your credibility goes right in the toilet.

      There is a Reason that the Reason Foundation avoids looking at the transport capacity that is purchased for that money, and the $100b that it would cost to provide that same transport capacity with road and air infrastructure.

      And that Reason is that $68b is less than $100b, and since they are paid to come to the conclusion that the HSR is a bad deal, they have to ignore that there fancy "68<100" mathematics.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:47:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And I also posted the Cal Legislature's Critique (0+ / 0-)

        And the legislature is 2/3s Dem.
        Are they all in the pay of the oil lobby?

        God forbid you might look at any document that comes from an agency which has positions that conflict with your beliefs. I, for one, prefer only to look at materials which confirm my preconceived notions.

        Sadly, the internet has made echo chambers the norm.

        •  The summary above links to its source. (0+ / 0-)

          Its source is a critique of the LAO analysis that you are referring to.

          So when you say:

          God forbid you might look at any document that comes from an agency which has positions that conflict with your beliefs. I, for one, prefer only to look at materials which confirm my preconceived notions.
          ... there is no reason to take you seriously when you are talking about a summary of a critique of the document you are talking about.

          You saw something that said it was a summary of an argument, and though you would attack that summary, without even bothering to look at the piece it said it was summarizing.

          So when you say:

          Sadly, the internet has made echo chambers the norm.
          ... the irony there is that you are the one in the echo chamber that you are talking about. Its like the anti-train transport blogger that referred to a climate life cycle analysis of the CO2 impact of the CA HSR project using an energy consumption figure that was over three times too high, because one CHSRA consultant made a unit conversion mistake in converting from the metric units of their original source. That mistake is now known, but those in the anti-HSR echo chamber keep using the original source because they like the conclusion it draws.

          That is not evidence-based analysis, its mistake-based analysis.

          I'm pursuing evidence based analysis, and you seem to just be repeating talking points that fit with the conclusion you already have.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 01:31:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sierra Club Opposes Using Cap & Trade Money (0+ / 0-)
    “Inherent in AB 32 is that we need to act sooner rather than later,” said Kathryn Phillips, the Sierra Club’s California director. “The problem with taking that [cap-and-trade] money and applying it to high-speed rail is that we don’t anticipate that we’re going to get those benefits — reductions in greenhouse gas emissions — in the short-term. Given how urgent the problem is and has become, and how much we’re seeing the effects of climate change in this state, especially in water availability, it feels irresponsible to not apply that money to those programs that will get you greenhouse gas emissions reductions now.”
    http://nextcity.org/...

    This coming from JohnnyGunn who is not particularly well-known for his climate advocacy. And yet, when there are funds to use for carbon reduction, I believe they should be used for faster more effective results - - wind, solar, and retrofitting.

    •  We can't keep 80% of the grease in the ground ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... with our intercity transport completely addicted to petroleum via car and air travel.

      The premise of your question is that there is a package of wind, solar and retrofitting projects that all on their own will be enough to keep 80% of the grease in the ground. While that side of things is the largest contributor of CO2, its less than half, and the second largest contributor is from powering transport.

      If we go totally carbon neutral on everything else, but we keep using climate suicide transport systems, we commit suicide as an industrial society.

      So there is no such thing as an "effective package" of CO2 reductions that does not include offering alternatives to climate suicide transport systems, like driving and flying.

      And you have a hidden premise that the most useful thing we can do for wind and solar is to spend Cap and Trade funds on them.

      But what wind and solar most need is reforming of the entrenched rules and traditional systems of organizing and managing power generation. But alongside those required reforms, having a Cap and Trade at all automatically supports wind and solar, no matter how the money is spent, because it gives a price advantage to all power generating sources that do not require Carbon permits.

      And of course providing a minority share of a project that is going to be purchasing 100% of its energy from renewable energy sources is also spending money in a way that will promote wind and solar.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:29:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For the Money, CHSRA Is a Bad Bet (0+ / 0-)

        Even if CHSRA comes in on budget - $68B -
           (which is highly unlikely)
        And even if CHSRA gets all of its electricity from renewables -
          (which is unlikely given the current move towards natural gas)
        And even if CHSRA's passenger and operating estimates are correct -
           (which is also extremely unlikely)

        CHSRA would only be a tiny portion of the total carbon picture - -
        And at an outrageous price per ton of CO2.

        What's more, we would be paying 100X the current trading price of carbon - with current dollars - for carbon savings 10 to 20 years down the road.

        <<<>>>

        Bruce, I've gone back and forth with you for years over HSR. North Carolina and Illinois have adopted a far more moderate, gradualist approach for a fraction of the price and are already seeing results. I cannot support a program which is destined to fail. Destined to fail, not because people do not offer sufficient support, but because its basic parameters are fatally flawed.

        •  The price per ton of CO2 ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gooderservice

          ... depends on the CO2 funding that goes to the project, not the total cost of the project. Pointing to the total cost of the project as if it was all for the purpose of CO2 emissions reduction is a logical fallacy.

          The argument you are responding to in this comment thread is that the Cap and Trade funds are appropriate to use up to the amount that costs $75/ton. So if you are trying to argue against using the Cap and Trade funds to the point where the effective price is $100/ton, or $200/ton, making that argument here only shows that you are responding to some other imagined argument instead of the argument I made.

          If you insist that its possible to do what we need to do without ever having an effective carbon price in the $60/ton to $90/ton range, you are free to imagine that, but living in denial of the evidence of the severity of the problem doesn't actually make the problem less severe, nor does it make the evidence actually go away.

          As far as how much it does ... no single project will ever do more than a small piece of the problem on its own, so that's an obvious Fox-News-style red herring. Its identical to "this streetcar will only carry 0.X% of the commuter traffic of the LA Metro Area" when the alternative is to spend the money on roadworks that will carry a smaller share of LA Metro Area commuter traffic.

          And as far as going back and forth ... no, I don't believe that we have. People like you who have one solution whatever the setting are right when their solution fits the setting, and wrong when their solution does not fit the setting.

          I have never moved you one inch away from a fixed faith in the incremental strategy as the only correct answer to developing all intercity rail corridors, and you have never moved me one inch away from an evidence-based approach to deciding which is the appropriate strategy.

          From the perspective of an evidence based approach, you have been debating instead of problem solving: you've never moved the LA Basin and the Bay Area two hundred miles closer together, nor have ever made the terrain between the San Joaquin Valley and both the LA Basin and Bay Area any less costly to build either kind of rail corridor in, so you have never made one step toward even starting a case for sabotaging the project currently underway.

          So you've been reiterating your belief, and I've been pointing out the flaws in those beliefs from the evidence-based perspective so that the readers who come here for an evidence based approach are aware of the evidence that that belief does not fit the case at hand.

          All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

          by BruceMcF on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 01:06:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Illinois and North Carolina are smaller states (0+ / 0-)

    both in terms of population and compact geography.  They're also starting out with long-established, better-connected, inter-city passenger rail service.

    Comparisons with a big western state like California are difficult.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 08:38:33 AM PDT

    •  Yes, this is similar to ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... the Madrid to Barcelona rail corridor, in both populations service, distances and, overall, the population densities of California and Spain.

      California should at the same time be pursuing Rapid Rail upgrades to the rail corridors which are more similar in distance to the Chicago / St. Louis and the Piedmont Corridor (just as Spain pursued both bullet trains and Rapid Rail services) ~ such as the Surfliner from LA to San Diego and the Capital Corridor from San Jose / Oakland / Sacramento ... but when you have a top five in the US) urbanized area and a top twenty urbanized area, about 500 miles apart, and difficult terrain in two long sections of the corridor that narrows the percentage cost premium for HSR, pursuing a bullet train system for that corridor is appropriate.

      All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

      by BruceMcF on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 08:50:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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