Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Environmentalists still not “getting” CA high-speed rail

If you’re in an environmentalist, what’s not to love about high-speed rail? It takes cars off of the roads, consumes less fossil fuel (and is zero-emissions ready when our power grid is), encourages urban living, and will eliminate the need for many short-haul plane flights, which are huge emitters of carbon. So why are the Sierra Club and the Planning and Conservation League, two environmental groups, not jumping behind the California High-Speed Rail project?

Because they believe that the rail authority’s choice of the more rural Pacheco Pass for the final route will induce more sprawl than the Altamont Pass alternative. Forget the fact that area residents have always had a highway to sprawl out along if they wanted to, and that trains stop right downtown and can encourage walkable development. Robert Cruickshank has, as usual, done a very good job outlining the flimsy nature of these groups’ arguments, so I won’t bother going into any more detail here.

The main point here is one I’ve made before. This is the time to effect change in our nation’s transportation policy. Change for the sake of citizens, the environment, and the economy. However, if environmentalists and rail advocates don’t find the will to work together at this critical juncture, nothing will happen and both groups will continue to find themselves impotently struggling against the status quo, secure in their positions on the fringes of the political realm.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, United States High Speed Rail, , ,

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