California High-Speed Rail Is Moving Forward

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This article first appeared on Gas2.

california high-speed rail

California’s high-speed rail project has gotten the green light to begin even with many political obstacles still on the table.

The overseeing board of the California high-speed rail project has said that the first 65-mile stretch of rail between Fresno and Merced will be exempt from the requirement that railway construction first obtain prior approval from the federal board.

The reason for this decision to skip the federal board approval was in part caused by a massive lobbying campaign to get the high-speed rail construction under way. In other words, JOBS JOBS JOBS! In short, this is a massive win for labor unions and, long term, this decision will reduce the time before citizens in California will have access to a high-speed rail system.

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Given that the California high-speed rail project has $3.5 billion in funding from tax payers’ dollars there are of course objectors to the decision. The concerns range from environmental impact to good old dollars and cents. A recent bill from the transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee has actually proposed allocating no funds for the California high-speed rail project through 2014. Well, as it turns out, the California high-speed rail project was not expecting any further funding in 2014 anyhow, so that’s obviously just political grandstanding.

As for the environmental concerns, they are still valid. Environmental impact reports have shown that an estimated eleven endangered species would be affected by the overall California high-speed rail project. Massive emissions from diesel-powered heavy equipment used to lay the track would pollute the air. Dozens of rivers, canals, and wetlands fed from the peaks of the Sierra Nevada would be crossed and could create other complex issues.

The issue here is that this would be from the overall California high-speed rail project. Thankfully, that means there is time to deal with and fix these possible issues in an environmentally friendly way while still moving forward with the advancement of American high-speed rail.


Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison

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