California High Speed Rail: Phony Climate Change Claims

California High Speed Rail: Phony Climate Change Claims

The Project California voters will be asked to approve a nearly $10 billion bond issue in the November election as the beginning of funding for the a high-speed rail system intended to serve San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno, Riverside-San Bernardino and points between. Promoters claim that the remaining necessary funding (from $45 billion to $71 billion, depending upon who you believe) would come from the federal government and private investors. There is no federal program to provide such massive funding and private investment seems highly unlikely given the overwhelming prospects for financial failure.

The Issue One of the principal proponent’s claims about high-speed rail is that it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, high-speed rail’s environmental benefits have been greatly overstated.

California HSR will do little to reduce CO2 emissions (greenhouse gas emissions). Based upon California Air Resources Board projections, HSR would ultimately remove CO2 emissions equal to only 1.5 percent of the current state objective. This is a small fraction of the CHSRA’s exaggerated claims of “almost 50 percent” of the state objective. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated that for between $20 and $50 per ton of reduced greenhouse gases emissions, deep reversal of CO2 concentrations can be achieved between 2030 and 2050. A McKinsey report indicates that substantial CO2 emission reductions can be achieved in the United States for less than $50 per ton. Yet the cost per ton of CO2 emission removal by HSR is far higher. ---.between 39 and 201 times the international IPCC ceiling of $50. The reality is that HSR’s impact on CO2 would be inconsequential while being exorbitantly costly.

Adapted from The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report By Wendell Cox & Joseph Vranich

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