Tuesday, June 05, 2012

High Speed Rail in New York State falls away, but Climate Change will soar


It is another tragedy, like the quiet demise of the Great Lakes Off-Shore Wind Project (GLOW), that funds for the building of an anticipated high speed rail fell away under a congressional deal.  The Erie Canal that started on July 4th, 1817 was a boom for Rochester, turning it from a hamlet into a major city in a decade.  Products from the West could be boated across the canal, one of the best in the world, to Albany and then down the Hudson River to New York City.  But the canal cannot help us now, it’s too slow.  (Though, the canal might be a way to move collected massive amounts of recyclables from one district to another.)

Congressional deal derails funding for high-speed rail Congressional negotiators have agreed to eliminate funding for high-speed rail and trim community policing grants to $200 million in the current fiscal year. The partial agreement on a fiscal 2012 budget also will provide $2.63 billion for disaster recovery grants. The agreement covers three of the 12 spending bills that will pay for government operations this fiscal year. Since Oct. 1, the government has been operating on a stopgap spending bill that expires Friday.  (November 16, 2011) Democrat and Chronicle

New York State had the chance to move away from fossil fuels for energy andtransportation to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change in our State.  But now a major push for renewable energy via wind farms and public transportation via high speed rail are off the table and Fracking, probably the worst idea ever thought up to drain the last drop of fossil fuels from our lands, is on the table.

So, we must ask the question: If New York State is serious about addressing Climate Change, as they say they are (see: NYSERDA - EMEP: Climate Change), where’s the proof?  New York State in its official reporting knows that in order to address Climate Change quickly it has to act big and bold—“Responding to Climate Change in New York State

But, how is that going to happen if our state continually squashes programs that are the size and speed of programs that can do something to curb our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and gives into short-term projects that will put us in further danger from Climate Change with projects like Fracking?  Once you start reading the official documents by the state and various departments, you realize that our state government ‘gets it’ on the peril and immensity of Climate Change.  But when it comes to actually being able to act on the scale that will be needed to change something so incredibly vast as our atmosphere, they fall down. 

Climate Change is not just a problem for liberals and the environmental community, everyone is going to experience these Likely Changes in our region because we keep avoiding real solutions to Climate Change.

With High Speed Rail in New York State we could have avoided a lot of vehicular travel that seriously impacts our GHG emissions by 27%, and increased Active Transportation (walking and bicycles) and public transportation because these short transportation options could have linked to this viable long transportation option.  We keep letting the number crunchers and embedded economists rule our environment with fossil fuel solutions that only make day of reckoning sooner and worse. 

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