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Deron Lovaas’s Blog

Missing the Train on the Recovery Package

Deron Lovaas

Posted January 19, 2009 in Moving Beyond Oil

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Walking through a checklist of items needed for my trek to downtown D.C. from the suburb of College Park (by bicycle, no less!) for the Inauguration tomorrow, I keep reminding myself of a fact of life: After the dust has settled from this historic event, we can't relent in our advocacy for better federal policy. It may be a new dawn in Washington, but all of us must keep pushing so more people see the light.

One of the most urgent items on THAT checklist is investment in rail and transit, which is meager relative to the need (and to the highway spending) in the economic recovery package unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee last week.

My friend Paul Loeb and I wrote a piece on it in Huffington Post, which I urge you to read and comment about by clicking here.

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Comments

Dr. James SingmasterJan 20 2009 01:53 AM

The article with Loeb ought to be pointing out that railroad diesel engines are actually diesel electric engines that could be connected with pickup shoes to get electricity from a third rail or overhead line. That would stop the messy exhaust of diesel engines, but the idea seems to get no one's attention. Transportation funds to put in the lines, perhaps with 50% of costs shared with railroads, would put many thousands to work in steel fabrication as well as on the installation. The engines would still carry diesel oil to run on in case of big time power outages.
Also funds for transportation should be put into developing hydrogen as fuel. Six different catalysts have been reported in the last 18 months with claims of being able to split hydrogen from water using the sun's rays. Some people thought hydrogen would be too hard to handle but Honda has a small fleet of hydrogen powered cars being used by rental companies in the LA area supposedly. It seems funny that our National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado is not involved in checking these catalysts out and keeps wasting our money on the dead end biofuels thinking. Biofuels will just keep carbon dioxide recycling through plants not removing on balance a single molecule of that gas from the biosphere.
Dr. J. Singmaster

Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co.Jan 24 2009 04:25 PM

Something there is that doesn't love mass transit.

Something there is that doesn't love cluster communities.

Something there is that makes bicycle riding sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.

Something there is that makes foolish cars loveable.

Something there is that limits our cash.

Anything we do to solve our problems needs to take note of these somethings.

Rethinking our choices can help, but we have to select the things that are really important to us. Going back a hundred years, when the automobile was just emerging as the basis of our social structure, and working out how things could be done in a better way based on what we know now, the Miastrada car concept was developed. Though it is still a basic concept, it could lead to a different set of choices. Click my name to see some drawings, etc.

(I have an interest in Miastrada, and though this interest is far from being gainful, I apologize if it seems to be too self-promotional. Still I continue since I think it could lead to some important answers.)

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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