A new federal report on climate change released by the
None of this should come as a surprise; the most recent report by the
How to spend this windfall? You can be sure there's no shortage of ideas in Sacramento. Gov.
Both ideas have merit, though as this page has argued, the state should not commit significant sums of cap-and-trade money to high-speed rail until it is determined that the project is viable — legally, financially and otherwise. Both transit-oriented housing and the rail project, at least theoretically, should eventually reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled by Californians, an important step in reducing tailpipe emissions, and Steinberg's smart-planning emphasis has the added benefit of providing more housing as well as creating walking-friendly cities and less-crowded streets.
But it doesn't make sense to tie up so much of the state's cap-and-trade income in long-term projects when climate scientists insist that we need to move quickly and decisively. Already California is hard-pressed to meet its climate goals for the years beyond 2020. Not only would the benefits of high-speed rail not be felt for more than a decade, but there are legitimate questions about whether the project will ever get done and, if it does, how much it will contribute to reducing carbon emissions.
There are ways to reduce greenhouse gases more quickly and measurably. Replace more diesel trucks, which would also reduce deadly particulate pollution, especially in low-income areas girdled by freeways. Expand existing public transit systems, making them quicker and more convenient. Help more California motorists afford hybrid or electric vehicles. Increase the state's commitment to solar energy and water conservation; the single biggest consumer of power in California is the State Water Project, which is responsible for the energy-intensive job of moving water around the state.
Carbon isn't the only greenhouse gas. Methane is about 30 times more potent at trapping heat over 100 years. Methane-capture equipment at the state's dairies and cattle operations, major producers of the gas, could significantly reduce this kind of pollution.