High-Speed Rail Between Mexico and Texas by 2018?

by Important Media Cross-Post Heather Carr.

A proposed high-speed rail line between San Antonio, Texas and Monterrey, Mexico could improve trade, reduce travel time, and increase tourism between the two countries.
A proposed high-speed rail line between San Antonio, Texas, Laredo, Texas, and Monterrey, Mexico could improve trade, reduce travel time, and increase tourism between the two countries. The Mexico portion is already funded and completion on that side of the border should happen by 2018.

Originally published on Gas2.

Representative Henry Cuellar (who represents a crazy-shaped district in Texas that runs from the west side of San Antonio, around to the south of the city, then takes a sharp left to the Rio Grande above Laredo and down to McAllen) is the author of the idea.

Rep. Cuellar, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Commissioner Jeff Austin, and Mexican officials met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to discuss the plan on Thursday.

The proposed high-speed rail line would run from San Antonio, Texas to Monterrey, Mexico through Laredo, Texas. The trip, which usually takes five hours to drive, not including stops, would take less than two hours on a high-speed train.

High-Speed Rail Between Monterrey and San Antonio

Monterrey is a wealthy industrial and business center in Mexico, and is home to the headquarters of many large Mexican and international corporations. In 2008, the GDP of the city was US$102 billion. More than four million people live in the Monterrey metropolitan area, and several naturally beautiful areas surround the city. Combined with the year-round gentle climate, this makes it attractive to outdoors enthusiasts as well.

San Antonio, at the other end of the proposed high-speed rail line, is similarly bustling with industry. The metro area is about half the size of Monterrey’s, with a little over two million people. Caves, natural areas, and theme parks in the region make it a popular tourist destination. It’s also very romantic, if you’re looking for a nice place for a wedding or weekend getaway.

Funding for Texas High Speed Rail

The project would be a joint effort between the U.S. and Mexico. On the Mexican side, funds are already in place to build the infrastructure necessary for new high-rail lines. Construction is planned to begin in 2015 and be finished as early as 2018.

Funding for high-speed rail on the U.S. side is a little more uncertain, although Rep. Cuellar says he believes the proposed high-speed rail would be built using mostly private funds. In recent years, the south Texas economy has relied more and more on construction (and wind farms! We love the wind farms!). Building a high-speed rail line through the area would continue the current economic boom.

With trade between the U.S. and Mexico at about US$500 billion, high-speed rail makes good sense for both the local and national economy. But can a deep-red state like Texas take the lead on a light-blue infrastructure project like high-speed rail?

Source: Daily Mail | Image: Jon Curnow/CC

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This article, US–Mexico High-Speed Railway Proposed, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

The Seven Greenest Vehicles on Earth

The Seven Greenest Vehicles on Earth | 12/08/13
Originally published on Shrink That Footprint

According to Wikipedia, a ‘vehicle’ is a:

mobile machine that transports passengers or cargo. Most often vehicles are manufactured, such as bicycles, cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, trains, ships, boats and aircraft.

But somehow, a ‘green vehicle’ is a:

road motor vehicle that produces less harmful impacts to the environment than comparable conventional internal combustion engine vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Wikipedia, but I do find it a little ironic that ‘green vehicles’ are pigeonholed as cars. Because on a full lifecycle emissions basis, cars really aren’t that green compared to other options.

greenest vehicles on earth
The World’s 7 Greenest Vehicles. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

 

Here’s my take on the world’s seven greenest vehicles.

7: The Nissan Leaf

I thought I’d be charitable and include a car. After all, a huge chunk of global passenger kilometers are from automobiles, so better cars are hugely important for the future. I’ve plumped for the Nissan Leaf as it is the leading all-electric car in Japan, the US, UK, Norway…. Using low-carbon electricity, electric car emissions are down around 50 g CO2e/pkm (passenger kilometre), almost all of which comes from vehicle manufacturing.

The nissan leaf
The Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

6: The Intercity Coach

It may surprise you, but the typical Stagecoach or Greyhound diesel bus can often have lower emissions per passenger kilometer than the best electric car. That’s because intercity buses travel at efficient speeds on highways, have decent occupancy, and have tiny manufacturing emissions, as they are spread over so many passengers. I’ve seen a bunch of studies ranging from 35-85 g CO2e/pkm.

The Intercity Coach
The Intercity Coach. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

5: The School Bus

This one is probably even more surprising, but school buses typically have quite low emissions. Not because they are über efficient, or because they do smooth highway miles, but simply because they have such high occupancy. Emissions per passenger kilometer are typically in the 20-50 g CO2e/pkm range.

The School Bus
The School Bus. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

4: High Speed Rail

High-speed rail can be very low carbon, particularly with the right juice. We’ve taken the Eurostar and TGV from London down to the Pyrenees a couple of times with emissions about a tenth of what a flight would have been. The largely nuclear electricity in France means emissions of 17 g CO2e/pkm on their high-speed network. Typically, emissions are from 10-60 g CO2e/pkm depending on fuel source.

High Speed Rail
High Speed Rail. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

3: Light Urban Rail

Any form of electric train can provide very low carbon miles if it has the right juice. Busy trams, metro, or light-rail systems can also have low emissions. The example below is from Bergen in Norway, where hydro power is dominant. Lifecycle emissions can range from 10-50 g CO2e/pkm depending on fuel source, efficiency, and occupancy.

Light urban rail
Light Urban Rail. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

2: The Electric Bike

Guess how many electric bikes there are in China today? 200 million!! That number floored me when I first saw it. Almost 30 million e-bikes will be sold in China this year alone. That is about half the number of passenger cars globally. In coal-reliant China, an electric bike has average lifecycle emissions of 22 g CO2e/pkm. Depending on fuel mix, they are typically in the range of 5-30 g CO2e/pkm.

Electric bike
The Electric Bike. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

1: The Flying Pigeon Bicycle

The ‘Flying Pigeon‘ is the most popular [green] vehicle of all time. More than 500 million have been produced since 1950. Based on the 1932 Raleigh Roadster, the popular model came in black, with one speed, 28 in (710 mm) wheels, a fully covered chain, sprung leather saddle, rear rack, and rod brakes. This is an old-school classic. In China, where the diet is relatively low carbon and electricity carbon intensive, this bike edges the eBike at around 10 g CO2e/pkm.

The flying pigeon
The Flying Pigeon Bicycle. Image by Shrink That Footprint.

What is missing from the list?

This isn’t the most scientific of lists, and I get the feeling I must be missing some options? You can get a better grip of the data in our 5 Elements of Sustainable Transport post. The one thing that really surprised me in this post is the rise of electric bikes. It is about 90% a China story currently, but the rate of growth in Brazil, Europe, India, and even the US is really impressive.

This article, 7 Greenest Vehicles On Earth, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Shrink That FootprintShrink That Footprint Shrink That Footprint is a resource for squeezing more life out of less carbon. We are an independent research group that provides information to people interested in reducing their climate impact. Our core focus is understanding, calculating, and reducing personal carbon footprints.

Decentralised Power To The People Energy Revolution In UK

by Cynthia Shahan

London, UK
London Bridge, London, UK. Photo Credit: Anirudh Koul / CC BY-NC

Greg Barker, the UK’s Energy and Climate Change minister, recently expressed that a “decentralized power to the people energy revolution” is doable. He understands that this developing sector, now half a million local energy systems in UK homes and businesses, will be able to reinvent the power structure of energy.

Instead of “the Big Six,” he believes it is possible for millions of individual consumers and smaller businesses to become producers in the energy network. His vision is authentic power to the people via an energy transition that breaks through the status quo. Everyone can develop into a generator of energy by adopting renewable energy.

BusinessGreen’s Will Nichols shares highlights of a recent Conservative Party conference and Barker’s words:

“I want to unleash a completely new model of competition and enterprise. I want to encourage a vast new army of disruptive new energy players to challenge the Big Six,” Barker said.

From individual consumers to community groups, entrepreneurs, SMEs and FTSE giants, I want them all to consider generating their own energy at real scale, as well as starting to sell their excess energy on a commercial basis. A decentralised power to the people energy revolution – not just a few exemplars but tens of thousands of them. The Big Six need to become the Big 60,000.”

As Barker and others addressed the Conservative Party conference, he expressed his vision of accentuating solar energy, pointing out that the falling costs of solar – as well as technologies such as combined heat and power, geothermal, biomass, energy from waste and hydro power – were driving jobs and growth. The article continues:

…. But Barker added that the government needs to do more to “cut red tape” and eradicate over-complicated policy to drive further growth of the green economy.

“We must also look to do far more to integrate our new policies that help families produce their own renewable electricity with our new incentives to help families generate renewable heat, and make sure they work hand in glove with the range of new Green Deal energy efficiency measures which help hardworking families keep their homes warmer for less,” he said.

Other speakers, highlights, and opinions in this Nichol’s article find Barker in a polarity with Chancellor George Osborne, who has been criticized for his lack of interest in a progressive movement towards a healthier environment and clean energy jobs.

His words contrasted greatly with Chancellor George Osborne, who said prior to the conference that he did not want the UK to be a world-leader in fighting climate change, as environmental commitments damage the country’s competitiveness.

Beyond renewable energy, the topic of high-speed rail — a hot topic in England these days — was also discussed. While acknowledging rising costs, the UK’s Transport Secretary highlighted the tremendous need for the controversial new high-speed rail line:

Also today, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin reiterated his “proud” support for the much-criticized HS2 high-speed rail line. Costs are spiraling for the £42bn project, but McLoughlin insisted the link from London to Birmingham and then to Manchester and Leeds, is “an essential heart bypass to the clogged arteries of our current transport system” and attacked the “London commentators” deriding the scheme.

“Our current rail system is almost full — there just isn’t the space we need for the future,” he said. “The new line will make more room for freight on rail and take the strain off our roads. And it will have the same capacity as a new 12-lane motorway.

“Now I promise you — I hear the critics. Boy, do I hear the critics. But the truth is we need a new north-south line to make our country stronger.”

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This article, “Decentralised Power To The People Energy Revolution” In UK, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Cynthia Shahan is an Organic Farmer, Classical Homeopath, Art Teacher, Creative Writer, Anthropologist, Natural Medicine Activist, Journalist, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

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