Let’s rebuild our national rail network instead of repealing the gas tax
At the rate things are going, any money that would be available for global warming mitigation is going to go into subsidizing the oil used by airplanes, trucks, cars, and heating oil so that most Americans do not become hysterical — or am I being hysterical? From Michael T. Klare’s latest article:
Oil at $110 a barrel. Gasoline at $3.35 (or more) per gallon. Diesel fuel at $4 per gallon. Independent truckers forced off the road. Home heating oil rising to unconscionable price levels. Jet fuel so expensive that three low-cost airlines stopped flying in the past few weeks. This is just a taste of the latest energy news, signaling a profound change in how all of us, in this country and around the world, are going to live — trends that, so far as anyone can predict, will only become more pronounced as energy supplies dwindle and the global struggle over their allocation intensifies.
When most freight moves by truck instead of train, when most long-distance travel is by plane (or car), not train, and when most people can only do daily traveling by car, not train — then we are set up for the situation we see unfolding, in which the Republican nominee for president is calling for a repeal of the gasoline tax and where, in Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton only added the twist that oil subsidies should be cut so that we can cut the gasoline tax, and where, also in yesterday’s debate, Barak Obama talked about getting gasoline prices down.
So let me try this one: As important as pricing carbon is, it will not lead to the construction of national high-speed train networks and urban light-rail/bus rapid transit. Governments at all levels need to start planning and then rolling out train and bus networks. Build trains now!