This is the lead editorial in this morning's NYT. They criticize, as one might expect, the House Transportation bill. Our concern pertains to their prohibition of the use of highway trust funds -- gasoline taxes -- on public transit. Presumably that includes high-speed rail.
1. The New York Times is a Democratic/Liberal newspaper. It supports HSR on principle, it being perceived as the missing part of the national public mass transit system. It ignores, therefore, the realities of what's wrong with high-speed rail, and what's wrong specifically with the California HSR project. That is what this blog is all about.
2. Gasoline taxes are user taxes; they pay for the collective infrastructure support system (the roads and highways) required to make our cars useful. They are user-fees, somewhat like toll roads.
3. The argument that is being made in favor of public mass transit is that its mission is to reduce automobile use. While I do believe in the realities of "climate change" induced by man-made GHG, eliminating automobiles is far too radical a requirement on as complex a mega-system such as our national transit and transportation strategies. The rule is: Make small changes on big systems, rather than large changes on small systems.
4. We should, and we are, making our automobiles far more fuel efficient and thereby reducing GHG production. We should, and are not, improving our local, urban and regional public mass transit systems, nationwide. (A much smarter move than wasting funds on inter-city HSR.) Transit and automobile use must not be posited as mutually exclusive. As it happens, evolving automobile technologies are successful. They reduce gasoline consumption, as do the changes in our driving habits; that is, we drive less. Therefore, there is a concomittant decline in those gasoline taxes that the Democrats seek to invest in public transit, and high-speed rail.
5. The intention to use gasoline taxes for the creation of more "anti-automobile" public mass transit is, by definition, self-defeating. When successful, there would be no more gasoline taxes, since there would be no more automobiles. That, of course, is only a hyperbole, stated here to make a point.
6. While we, on this blog, support the maintenance and upgrading of public mass transit and commuter services in our metropolitan areas, we oppose the development of the inter-city high-speed rail project -- THIS PROJECT -- in California.
We have devoted over 1,000 entries on this blog to give the reasons why.
7. A final point about the public transit issue. It is quite plausible that what is in the current version of the Republican House Transportation Bill is not expected to remain in the final version. This one is only the opening bargaining card-hand. The Senate will have one that the House Republicans will reject. And, so negotiations will start. These conflicts will last beyond the elections before being resolved.
Since the editorial brings it up, the Republicans persist in drilling for oil anywhere and everywhere (presumably except in their own backyards). We keep talking about being independent of "foreign" oil. The fact is that in the commodities markets, which set the price of oil daily, there is no "foreign" and "domestic" oil. There is only one vast world-wide pool of oil for sale, regardless of the source. There are, of course, various grades of oil and various price points.
Whatever comes out of the ground anywhere, be it the US, Canada or Iran, enters the global oil market-place and is bid on by the world's consumer/refiners. Even with the Keystone Pipeline built and in place, if the Chinese made Canada a better offer for their tar-sands oil than the US, that Canadian oil would follow the higher price.
The Keystone pipeline and threats of drilling on our shorelines, in the middle of our National Parks, or the Arctic Wilderness Region, or anywhere in the US, is oil-politics.
All the US drilling will not affect oil prices in the global market-place. It's like asking for US manufacturers to hire US labor, when it's cheaper overseas. US manufacturers, like all others, are in the business of making money and are obliged to reduce their costs to be profitable and to remain competitive. World oil flows on the path of least resistance to the highest bidder.