Everybody loves high-speed trains

Torgny Lilja

In a time when pollution and greenhouse gases are growing to potentially dangerous levels, high-speed trains will help the country significantly. They are a fast, efficient and environmentally sound investment.

California should be taking advantage.

The Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1869, has been described as one of the greatest construction achievements in history. Yet during the last 50 years, the United States has focused on building highways and bridges, while the car industry helped to shut down railroad systems.

Today, when citizens are struggling with rising energy prices, trains are coming back. Scientists believe that fossil fuels are main contributors to the climate changing greenhouse effects.

The high-speed rail is good for the state of California and the environment, but the commute between Anaheim and Las Vegas shouldn’t be the first to get economic stimulus money.

More than $20 billion of the money for transportation projects given by When President Obama’s $787 billion federal stimulus bill was intended for non-highway construction like railroads.

Obama said the government would be making the largest investment in infrastructure since the 1950s.

Like President Roosevelt’s New Deal, Obama’s bill implies investment in the railroad system.

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons said he wants a large part of the $8 billion stimulus money to finance a new railroad. The train would make the trip from Anaheim to Las Vegas in less than 90 minutes.

While investment in green energy is a good thing, this high-speed rail is expected to pump money from California’s economy directly to the casinos of Las Vegas.

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, R-Idaho, called the project “a sin express train from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.”

However, Jon Summers, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said the train will help the state economy and the environment.

As California suffers from a $16 billion budget deficit for the 2008-09 budget year, there are other high-speed rail projects that are in need of governmental money.

While some want to squash the project, it would be more beneficial to start with a link between San Francisco and Los Angeles, as approved by California voters on Nov. 4, 2008 with the passage of Proposition 1A. The propostion would connect Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno and San Diego with high-speed trains.

The government will partially fund the 2010 budget with money from permits that give industries the right to pollute.

When the permits decline and businesses are forced to buy them on an open market, Obama hopes they will choose to invest in new, cleaner technology.

However, opponents say that the expense of meeting environmental standards and relying on renewable sources of energy could make the U.S. industry less competitive.

Obama believes otherwise, and it’s a good thing that he does.