California High-Speed Rail To Have Net Zero Emissions

By Guest Contributor – Roy L Hales

This article was first published on San Diego Loves Green
By Roy L Hales

california high speed rail

Construction on the first 65 miles of California’s high-speed rail project is about to beginThat is despite a new bill from Congress’ transportation committee, which has blocked funding in 2014. The Republican-controlled House was too slow, they already provided $3.5 billion and the money cannot be taken back. Now the California’s High Speed Rail Authority has released a report stating the project will produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our commitment is to make positive environmental contributions from day one.” — Authority CEO Jeff Morales

This does not allay concerns about the impact this project would have on 11 endangered species along the route, but does address the problem of air pollution from the diesel machinery that will lay down the tracks.

“High-speed rail will transform the state’s transportation system while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing environmental benefits for years to come.” — Jeff Morales

The CO2 produced during construction is to be offset by a tree planting program. Only recycled concrete and steel is to be used and contractors will be required to divert 75 % of their non-hazardous waste from landfills.

“The contractors will also be directed to explore methods to reduce the amount of potable water used onsite. These practical activities, including anti-idling programs, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and the use of fuel-efficient vehicles are among those that have been proven effective for reducing both GHG emissions and costs on many infrastructure projects.” — Jeff Morales.

The system is to run on 100% clean energy.

“To estimate GHG emissions associated with the electricity purchased by the Authority for traction power, which is the power needed to propel the train along the rails, and facilities operations, the Authority assumed a mix of 20 percent solar, 30 percent wind, 45 percent geothermal, and 5 percent biogas (methane capture).” Jeff Morales.

Thus the GHG emission reduction is calculated in terms of the number of passengers that choose to ride the high-speed rail system rather than use a car or airplane.

The Report’s Summary of Findings
The Report’s Summary of Findings.

“This analysis of greenhouse gas reductions clearly demonstrates that the high-speed rail project is an integral part of California’s overall climate goals,” said California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols. “This project will serve in the near term as the backbone of a more sustainable growth strategy in the San Joaquin Valley, and over time will provide a climate-friendly transportation option linking southern and northern California.”

“This report details important steps that the High-Speed Rail Authority is taking to curb greenhouse gas emissions in California and embrace renewable energy during operations,” said Brian Kelly, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency. “High-speed rail is a key part of meeting the state’s mobility, safety and sustainability objectives.”

In Europe, where high-speed rail systems have been is use for decades, they also have a track record of stimulating local economies.

“Lille diversified into knowledge-intensive, service-producing activities once it was connected via high speed rail to London, Paris and Brussels. High-speed rail investment helped the city turnaround from depopulation and declining economic sectors. After being connected to high-speed rail in 1981, Nantes has evolved from an industrial port to a major service sector hub and one of the world’s most livable cities.”

California high speed rail map complete

If the high-speed rail system proceeds according to plan, by 2029 it will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles. The cost for this first phase of construction is estimated at $68 billion. Phase two, which will extend the system to cover the 800 miles between Sacramento and San Diego, is to come later.

Yet there may be opposition in the Republican dominated House, which has just axed the funding for a similar project connecting Las Vegas to California.

“At a certain point, they have made it very clear that they are going to need $38 billion in federal funds,” said Jeff Denham, Chairman of the House Railway Committee.“

(Read “San Diego and the hoped for Resurgence of passenger trains“)

Graphs and images taken from the California High Speed Rail Authority Report, Contribution of the High-Speed Rail Program to Reducing California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels (June 2013).

DC SEU Wins EPA Sustained Excellence Award

EPA RECOGNIZES DC SEU AND NORTHEAST ENERGY EFFICIENCY INITIATIVE WITH 2013 ENERGY STAR® SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE AWARD

The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) in partnership with Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships earns award for protecting the environment through energy efficiency.

Press Release March 5, 2013 (Washington, DC) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the DC Sustainable Energy Utility a 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award as part of the Northeast Retail Products Initiative in recognition of its continued leadership in protecting our environment through energy efficiency. The initiative, facilitated by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and made up of utilities and energy efficiency program administrators in New England, New York, and Washington D.C., will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 2013.

In 2012, the DC SEU sold more than 43,000 compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). This year, the DC SEU has already sold more than 80,000 CFLs and now offers rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified light-emitting diodes (LEDs), clothes washers, and refrigerators.

“Working with local retailers, the DC SEU is committed to ensuring energy-efficient products are available to all District residents throughout the city.” — Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the DC SEU.

An ENERGY STAR Partner since 2000, the Northeast Retail Products Initiative will be honored for its long-term commitment to energy efficiency. During the last thirteen years, the Initiative has won 14 awards including six Excellence Awards.

“Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships is committed to speeding the adoption of high efficiency products in the region through our partnership with the DC SEU in the Retail Products Initiative.

By leveraging our resources, our initiative, which collectively serves over fifteen million households, [DC SEU] is able to yield more energy and cost savings for families and businesses than through individual program efforts.

We are very proud of the DC SEU for their tremendous efforts in helping to make the Northeast a sustained leader in energy efficiency.

Our success for the region is a direct result of the commitment they dedicate to accelerating energy efficiency for our environment, our economy, and our communities.” — Sue Coakley, Executive Director of NEEP.

For over 20 years, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2013 Sustained Excellence Awards are given to a select group of organizations that have exhibited outstanding leadership year after year. These winners have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by setting and achieving aggressive goals, employing innovative approaches, and showing others what can be achieved through energy efficiency. Award winners are selected from about 20,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

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ABOUT the DC SEU

Created by the City Council as part of the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA), the DC SEU is managed by the Sustainable Energy Partnership under contract to the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).

For more information on the DC SEU, visit: www.dcseu.com 

ABOUT NEEP

NEEP is a regional non-profit whose mission is to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to accelerate energy efficiency in the building sector through public policy, program strategies and education. NEEP’s Market Strategies team supports the collaboration of energy efficiency program administrators and other key stakeholders in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to achieve long-term cost-effective energy savings by broadening the market availability and consumer demand for high quality, energy efficient products and services.

Visit www.neep.org for more details.

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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