OK, so we spent the last 30 posts showing what the rightwing and the leftwing talking heads have been talking about. Now onto real news. This was forwarded to me by Andy Martin of Phat Andy’s Barbecue fame. Thanks for that man.
Amtrak is thinking “world class” rail, and the plan involves speeds of up to 220 miles per hour (about 354 kilometers per hour) that, all said and done, would slash existing commute times between the aforementioned cities in half.
But no plan is without a price tag, and Amtrak hangs that vision on a peg of $117.5 billion.
Here’s a statistical rundown of how that adds up on the ground:
Ridership by 2040: 18 million.
Capacity to expand beyond that: up to 80 million annually.
Frequency: one to four trains per hour in each direction, with additional trains for peak demand. Today: 42 per day. Tomorrow: 148.
Plan would generate an annual operating surplus (yes, you read that correctly) of about $900 million.
More than 40,000 full-time construction jobs each year for 25 years’ worth of building track, tunnels, bridges and stations.
More than 120,000 permanent jobs benefit from “improved economic productivity” along the corridor
$4.7 billion investment each year over 25 years, or $117.5 billion in total.
Next up, cheaper more efficient solar pane. More tomorrow.
That is right, spending public money to make public transport via trains more effective and competitive is just government waste and fraud. Kinda like the 500 billion $$$ we spend on the military every year or the billion $$$ we just waste on the high tech wall for the Mexican Border.
Somehow, it’s become fashionable to think that high-speed trains connecting major cities will help “save the planet.” They won’t. They’re a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause. They would further burden already overburdened governments and drain dollars from worthier programs – schools, defense, research.
Let’s suppose that the Obama administration gets its wish to build high-speed rail systems in 13 urban corridors. The administration has already committed $10.5 billion, and that’s just a token down payment. California wants about $19 billion for an 800-mile track from Anaheim to San Francisco. Constructing all 13 corridors could easily approach $200 billion. Most (or all) of that would have to come from government at some level. What would we get for this huge investment?
Not much. Here’s what we wouldn’t get: any meaningful reduction in traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, air travel, oil consumption or imports. Nada, zip. If you can do fourth-grade math, you can understand why.
High-speed inter-city trains (not commuter lines) travel at up to 250 miles per hour and are most competitive with planes and cars over distances of fewer than 500 miles. In a report on high-speed rail, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service examined the 12 corridors of 500 miles or fewer with the most daily air traffic in 2007. Los Angeles to San Francisco led the list with 13,838 passengers; altogether, daily air passengers in these 12 corridors totaled 52,934. If all of them switched to trains, the total number of daily airline passengers, about 2 million, would drop only 2.5 percent. Any fuel savings would be less than that; even trains need energy.
Jim Johnston and Sustainable Springfield had the Smart Growth panel last night and I saw Will. A head slap moment occurred immediately, so here are the photos from the HIGH Speed Rail Corridor community input session on MAY 7!!!!! Yup 2 months late.
Sorry for the size issues but it makes the map readable
There is the whole thing. Then there were the key areas of concern. In nor particular order as they say.
This is the last today…the post is getting long and I am still learning the new Word Press system for handling pictures…
But since I picked on St. John’s yesterday today we bring you the Rail Road Companies. In particular the community investing and protecting Union Pacific.
I posted page one here. You can call or email them if you want the whole thing. If you click on the image it will get a little bigger. My choices for posting were not great. Reeeal Big so that only part of it fit on the page or mid range which looks like the above.
With many renewable energy companies facing hard financial times (“Weeding Out Solar Companies“), a lot of the big energy news this year was coming out of Washington, DC, with massive federal stimulus funding for batteries and renewable energy and programs such as Energy Frontier Research Centers and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (“A Year of Stimulus for High Tech“).
Credit: Roy Ritchie
But there was still plenty of action outside the beltway, both in the United States and around the world. One of the most dramatic developments (“Natural Gas Changes the Energy Map“) was the rush to exploit a vast new resource; new drilling technologies have made it possible to economically recover natural gas from shale deposits scattered throughout the country, including in Texas and parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Advances in drilling technology have increased available natural gas by 39 percent, according to an estimate released in June. The relatively clean-burning fuel could cut greenhouse gas emissions by becoming a substitute for coal. Natural gas might even provide an alternative to petroleum in transportation, especially for buses and taxis–if only policymakers could take advantage of the new opportunity.
Cellulosic ethanol–made from biomass such as grass rather than corn grain–moved closer to commercialization, with announcements of demonstration plant openings (“Commercializing Garbage to Ethanol“) and scientific breakthroughs that could make the process cheaper (“Cellulosic Ethanol on the Cheap“). But at the same time, a number of companies are moving beyond cellulosic ethanol to the production of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from biomass–fuels that can be used much more readily in existing infrastructure and in existing vehicles. Exxon-Mobil announced substantial investments in algae-based fuels (“Big Oil Turns to Algae“). Remarkably, one startup declared its process–based on synthetic genomics and algae–could allow biofuels to replace all of transportation fuels without overwhelming farmland (“A Biofuel Process to Replace All Fossil Fuels“).
Getting the electricity to charge these vehicles–without releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide–could be made easier by a number of advances this year. A new liquid battery could cheaply store energy from wind turbines and solar panels for use when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing (“TR10: Liquid Battery“), making it practical to rely on large amounts of renewable electricity. Vast arrays of mirrors (“Solar Thermal Heats Up“) are being assembled in the desert to convert solar heat into electricity, and photovoltaic solar farms for converting light directly into electricity (“Chasing the Sun“) are getting a boost from the federal stimulus money. And researchers are finding ways to increase the efficiency of solar cells (“More Efficient, and Cheaper, Solar Cells“) and are discovering new photovoltaic materials to make solar power cheaper (“Mining Fool’s Gold for Solar“). And although progress on nuclear power is moving slowly, some advances on the horizon could help this low-carbon source replace fossil fuels (“TR10: Traveling-Wave Reactor“). Researchers even fired up the world’s largest laser system–one that’s the size of a football stadium–for experiments that could lead to a new form of fusion (“Igniting Fusion“).
Last, and almost certainly least, researchers have decided to look beyond the conventional sources of renewable energy–solar, wind, and waves–to hamsters. Researchers at Georgia Tech fitted the rodents with zinc-oxide nanowire jackets (“Harnessing Hamster Power with a Nanogenerator“), and watched as they generated an electrical current while scratching themselves and running on a wheel. See a video of the powerful hamsters here.
I rarely ever post stuff directly from the “Peak Oil” perspective for the same reasons that I do not post “end of days” stuff. They are BOTH true. That is OIL will run out and the Earth will come to an end but the predictiveness is problematic to say the least. For sure Peak Oil will come true before Peak Days, till either happens though…well the less said the better. They are having a conference in Denver and I thought I would post a couple of pieces so it doesn’t seem like I don’t like them.
Is there such a thing as Peak Sex? Well think about it (:)) there IS only so much that you can have.
Whither Resilience and Transition? Why ‘Peak Oil’ Has Yet to Outlive its Usefulness
It’s been a fascinating few days. Early in the week, Nate Hagens and Sharon Astyk were suggesting the perhaps the term ‘peak oil’ has outlived its usefulness, given that we have almost certainly peaked, and that the peak oil movement needs to shift its focus. It echoed something I wrote a while ago, likening ASPO and the wider peak oil movement to a Loch Ness Monster Society, dedicated to establishing the existence of this fabled creature. They organise conferences, scientific searches of the loch, write papers and journals, and then one day, an entire, intact Loch Ness Monster washes up on the shore. Then what? They have no reason to exist any longer, their whole raison d’etre vanishes overnight.
However, I don’t think it is that straightforward. For me, what we are seeing, taking a step back and looking in the longer time context, is a series of pulses. Peak oil won’t go away as an issue, it pulses in and out of the collective consciousness and hopefully will increasingly come to underpin Government policy-making. In July 2008, peak oil was pulsing as the oil price hit record highs, and issues around economics were in the background. Now, economics has been the key pulse for the last year or so, and peak oil has been pushed off the side of the stage until the last few days. If Colin Campbell’s original analysis, elaborated by David Strahan in his talk at the 2009 Transition Network conference, is correct, what looks likely is that the two will pulse alternately, as any kind of economic recovery increases demand, which raises the oil prices, which dampens economic recovery, which reduces demand and lowers prices, which increases demand, and so on and so on. Until the connection between the two becomes clear, they will continue to pulse alternately.
Over the last couple of days, the peak oil pulse has become most prominent, with two excellent reports which will hopefully give Ed Miliband a lot to think about, and dampen the complacency brought about by Malcolm Wicks’ dreadful and fairly pointless report on UK energy security. The first report, by the UKERC, the UK’s premiere research establishment, sets out to answer the question “what evidence is there to support the proposition that the global supply of ‘conventional oil’ will be constrained by physical depletion before 2030?”, via. a review of 500 published papers on the subject. Its findings are striking (you can read David Strahan’s excellent analysis of it here). It argues that there is a ’significant risk’ of conventional oil production peaking before 2020, and brands those who argue that it will come some time beyond 2030 as being ‘at best optimistic and at worst implausible’.
ellipse ellipse ellipse as they say in the citation business:
Then today, Ofgem, which regulates electricity and gas markets in the UK, publishes its Project Discovery: energy market scenarios report. It generates 4 scenarios about where energy prices might go between now and 2020, concluding that its worst case scenario means a 60% increase in energy bills. In order to be prepared for the decline in UK gas supplies, the shift to low carbon energy generation and the phasing out of nuclear plants, the UK needs to be prepared to invest £200 billion. Under all of its scenarios, fuel bills will rise, and interestingly, they note that the slower the economic recovery, the less steep the rise in prices. It is a shot across the bows of what it sees as Government’s keeping of the issue on the long finger, and failure to invest (although it does put nuclear centre stage as part of the solution).
This morning on Radio 4’s Today Programme, shadow energy secretary Greg Clark and energy analyst David Hunter discussed the implications of the Ofgem report with presenter John Humphries. It was a fascinating piece, mostly along the lines of “how has the Government let this slide for so long”, with Clark trying to make out that the Conservatives have been onto this for years, in spite of the lack of any evidence for this. When asked what the Tories’ response would be, he replied ‘clean coal’, a technology which Humphries had to point out, doesn’t actually exist yet, a phenomena Clark had tried to sidestep by describing it as ‘pre-commercial’. No talk, of course, of reducing demand, conservation, rethinking supply chains, of resilience.
Righto, the Brits are so fascinating to read and watch. Kinda like watching Gold Finches feeding upside down.
Peak oil believers think so, but oil, gas companies say that theory is bogus
Gene Davis, DDN Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
A “peak oil” conference wrapping up today in Denver is sounding the alarm that oil demand will soon outgrow supply, posing a potential economic threat to the country’s economic well being.
However, most oil and gas companies say the peak oil theory is bogus and that there are plenty of the natural resource to go around.
Mayor John Hickenlooper is among the peak oil believers. The former geologist told conference attendees yesterday that it’s not a question of if the world will reach peak oil ” meaning the time of maximum oil production ” but when it will happen.
“We cannot afford to ignore the issue,” he said in a statement. “By anticipating the expected rapid changes in both supply and demand, we can begin to frame the issue not only as a challenge but also as an economic opportunity.”
But The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, for one, doesn’t think Hickenlooper’s school of thought has much credibility.
“For more than five decades, various individuals have claimed that the world had reached, or was nearing, peak oil,” said a statement from the group. “With more than 200 new oil discoveries in the last year alone, it’s safe to say that peak oil enthusiasts are every bit as wrong today as they have been for the past 50 years.”
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas has been hosting the International Peak Oil Conference at Denver’s Sheraton Hotel since Sunday. The event has featured more than 70 speakers who have talked about “energy, oil, and our future.”
David Bowden, ASPOG executive director, said that after maximum oil production is reached, the United States economy might have difficulties growing without the constant input of steady and inexpensive oil.
As a result, Bowden is urging for people to “conserve, conserve, conserve” and shy away from “our monolithic oil consumption habits.” Although the United States has around 5 percent of the world’s population, the country uses approximately 25 percent of the world’s oil supplies, largely because of automobile usage.
Bowden supports light rail projects like FasTracks instead of building more roads or expanding highways. FasTracks is a multi-billion dollar transit expansion plan to build 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail.
“Even though FasTracks has its challenges and the system is a bit limited right now, as oil supplies tightens and the prices go up, it will be necessary,” he said.
Critics have continually slammed FasTracks for running behind schedule and over budget.
“(FasTracks) was such a faulty fiscal plan, it’s inexcusable,” said Jon Caldera of the libertarian Independence Institute earlier this year.
The recession and falling prices at the pump have taken the oil and gas issue out of the headlines. “But when the country pulls out of the recession and starts consuming more oil and growing populations in countries like China and India do the same the issue will become intensified, especially if oil production drops”, Bowden said.
“Anyone who tries to predict the timing and price of oil is engaged in a fools errand,” he said. “But we see the long-term writing on the wall.”
Click here to see how shipping freight by rail reduces your carbon footprint.
Please note the first web link above is “hot”, and the others are not. It’s kind of a cool site in the sense of when you point at the rest of the “enviro ticks” they automatically pop up on the adjacent screen. The carbon footprint thingy is “hot” too.