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CA Gov. Jerry Brown: Nothing Stops This Train

Gov. Jerry Brown is doubling down on the country’s biggest and most misguided energy boondoggle. California’s proposed high speed bullet train is a notoriously failed idea: not only was it foolish at the start, it now looks to be slower than initially expected as well as twice as expensive and half as useful. As a result, congressional Republicans have very reasonably choked off federal funds for the project, but Brown is fixated on moving forward anyway using state funds. WaPo reports:

“It’s well within the capability of the state of California,” Mr. Brown said in an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal. […]

State financing was largely absent before Mr. Brown reached a deal with state legislators in June to fund the train using money from the state’s cap-and-trade program on carbon emissions.

The budget deal directs $250 million from a cap-and-trade fund for the first year, and a quarter of the revenue from that fund in following years.

Funneling money from a cap-and-trade program to prop up a disastrous high-speed train project: It’s almost the perfect confluence of blue model thinking. The train may be rolling on in CA, but with ideas like this, it’s only a matter of time before reality derails Brown’s promises.

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  • alanstorm

    “… it’s only a matter of time before reality derails Brown’s promises.”

    Unfortunately for CA’s citizens, time is money.

  • Dan

    Casey Jones you better watch your speed

  • MartyH

    If California wanted to invest in infrastructure that would solve a real problem that the state faces, we’d be investing in desalinization plants up and down the coast. That way the environmental and financial effects of the drought would be less severe. But we have to spend tens of billions on a nineteenth century solution to a problem that does not exist. If you want to get between north and south fast you fly; cheap, you drive. What a colossal waste of money-it’d be cheaper and more flexible to just buy a fleet of hybrid buses and run them up and down the state. But our governor is fixated on this train…

    • Wayne Lusvardi

      Desalination would require a desalting plant every 4 miles along the California coastline. Even worse it would require unsightly new transmission towers and lines with 200 feet of minimum width of rights of way to be built out along the coast to tie the desalting plants into the power grid. Not a viable solution and desalination is a very costly form of power.

      • JLawson

        Desalination provides fresh water, not power.

        • Rick Caird

          I guess we could describe Wayne as “unfamiliar with the concept of remove salt from water”.

        • Wayne Lusvardi

          The trend is to combine desal with an energy plant. Desalination takes energy. And it takes huge power lines to serve such plants or their own power plants on site.

  • slovokia

    The sad thing is that the California electorate will probably never put 2 and 2 together and figure out how badly mismanaged our state is. I doubt Jerry Brown or the democratic party will be held to account. If California is America’s future god help us all (in terms of good governance).

  • SisyphusRolls

    By the time California’s high speed rail is built, Google and Ford will have made it obsolete with self-driving cars. Why would anyone take the train when you can keep your own car and have it drive you for an extra hour or two?

  • Duperray

    Many countries have bullet trains and they are not stupid: S.Korea, Japan, China, Germany, France, Spain, UK and so on. Installed only when economically viable, irrespective of greens’ propaganda. It is a very economical solution for high coastal populated areas; perhaps California considered area is not the right one?
    At 200mph speed, with only 10 minutes lost for boarding/deboarding operation, no taxi/car/train/subway time loss to reach far away airport which kilometers of corridors, checking-in, overal Security checks…. make air travelling a pain. Up to 3-500mile journey this is most convenient solution, expandable to 900miles shall 350mph speed is authorized. Beyond this, air is best.
    Does America rejects it because NIH ?

    • JLawson

      America rejects it because there’s no utility to it and no demand for it.

      Our current rail network is a vast money pit – with the rare areas it serves seeing maybe one train a day each way. (Atlanta, GA, for example, gets 1 train through it going southbound in the morning, and northbound in the afternoon.)

      Amtrak is subsidized like crazy – but even then, the conditions of some of the stations would be right at home in a 3rd World country.

      (Yes, Birmingham, AL, I’m looking at you…)

      Outside of the NE corridor, the entire system loses money like they’re tossing $100 bills out the window. Without the federal subsidies, it would have gone away a long time ago.

      HSR is not economically viable in the US. As a niche, premium product it would have some novelty value – but I don’t see people riding it more than once or twice just for the experience. The utility simply isn’t there.

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