I made the mistake of reading the news this morning. You’d think I’d learn to just read my e-mail and then move on to other things, bypassing the news page. Not today. The headline “House panel derails California’s high-speed trains” sucked me in.
I’m not a proponent of the plans for high-speed rail in California. I am amazed that, in the 21st century, we continue to reuse the old 20th century technology that has been around for so long. There have been such advances in so many fields, but not in the field of transportation.
This news article spoke of the same old tug-of-war between the Republicans and the Democrats. The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act is somewhere around 850 pages in length. Republicans added wording that restricts any money going to California from being used for high-speed rail. The really disconcerting part about this bill, though, is that it cuts Amtrak funding by 25%; the bill tries to speed up construction by shortening environmental reviews; and, last but not least, the bill gets some of its funding from new drilling for oil and gas on public lands, including parts of Alaska. We just can’t seem to get away from the oil and gas.
This country really does have a split personality. On one side, you have people who just want to keep that oil and gas flowing into this country. It doesn’t matter how we get it, just as long as we get it. Approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, which was to have carried tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, was denied by President Obama. Republicans are still trying to find a way to get the pipeline built. There continues to be a push by oil and gas corporations to drill anywhere they can, regardless of the impact on people and the environment. I recommend an informative and totally depressing film, Gasland. Oil and gas is being extracted from the ground all over the U.S. and the environment is being destroyed in the process. But all of this doesn’t matter to the people who just want that oil and gas to keep on flowing.
Then there’s the other side, the side that would like to continue to live in a clean environment, using renewable energy that doesn’t rely on oil or natural gas. Unfortunately, this side, my side, doesn’t stand a chance. There’s too much money and power on the other side.
I really do need to resist the temptation to read the news in the morning. It’s not a good way to start the day.