California: Hey, why aren’t we using cap-and-trade taxes to finance this high-speed rail boondoggle?

posted at 7:01 pm on April 26, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Once upon a time, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration was blithely professing confidence that they wouldn’t need to hit up taxpaying Californians to continue financing his pet high-speed rail project beyond the initial $10 billion in bonds he asked for (not to mention a casual few billion in stimulus funds from the Obama administration), because private investors would almost assuredly come a’clamoring to drop major dollars in what he felt — and apparently still feels — is an amazingly practical and affordable transit project.

How’s that working out? Via the WSJ:

As envisioned, California’s $68 billion bullet-train system, the nation’s first, would take passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco at speeds of more than 200 miles an hour. The project, though, has been beset by planning delays, fluctuating cost estimates and court challenges that have threatened to kill or delay it indefinitely.

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed using one-third of funds raised annually through cap-and-trade auctions to help pay for high-speed rail. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has proposed using one-fifth of those funds. If some version of those proposals passes the Democrat-dominated legislature in coming months, the state says it will use the guaranteed funding to leverage various new sources of financing to quicken the pace of construction. …

The state’s cap-and-trade program, created in 2006, requires businesses that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide to purchase credits for excess pollution. ..

Opponents of the project argue the cap-and-trade dollars wouldn’t provide anywhere near the amount of money the project will require. “It sounds nice, but this is their only alternative,” said Michael Brady, an attorney representing plaintiffs challenging the train in court. “They have been cut off by the federal government…they have raised no money from private investors, and no local government has even put up a dime.”

The state legislative analyst’s office estimates that their cap-and-trade program could raise anywhere from $12 billion to $45 billion through 2020 (…which seems like kind of a suspiciously huge range for an 6-year period, no?), and they’d love to shave a little off to keep funding the deepening disaster that is destiny of this project — despite the multiple court battles in which it is currently tied up. Good idea, guys.


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Ratso!

OmahaConservative on April 26, 2014 at 7:04 PM

tax and spend Democrats politicians what more do you expect

RonK on April 26, 2014 at 7:06 PM

So glad I shook the California dust off my heels in 2005…

OmahaConservative on April 26, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Ah, California…so frikking dumb.

squint on April 26, 2014 at 7:08 PM

Why does California need more money?

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 7:09 PM

Such an amazingly beautiful state. Sad that it’s so far gone politically.

MT on April 26, 2014 at 7:23 PM

It sounds like a good idea but government let alone California government are incapable of doing such a thing. In the olden days private people with money used to build railroads and such and they made a lot of money. Why not now?

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 7:23 PM

Such an amazingly beautiful state. Sad that it’s so far gone politically.

MT on April 26, 2014 at 7:23 PM

Good reason for splitting it up.

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 7:25 PM

It sounds like a good idea but government let alone California government are incapable of doing such a thing. In the olden days private people with money used to build railroads and such and they made a lot of money. Why not now?

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 7:23 PM

in the old days freight service paid the bills while passenger service gave the thrills.
freight has always been the profit center for railroads that offered both which is why they dumped passenger service as soon as they were allowed to.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 7:31 PM

in the old days freight service paid the bills while passenger service gave the thrills.
freight has always been the profit center for railroads that offered both which is why they dumped passenger service as soon as they were allowed to.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 7:31 PM

No reason why they can’t carry both. As I said people with money and brains used to figure these things out. People in government don’t have brains.

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 7:34 PM

I still can’t believe that my fellow Californians voted for the “bullet train” when we all know it will never attract enough passengers to make a profit. Yeah, we want to drive to a little town in central CA so we can leave our cars, ride to LA or SF, rent a car there, get back on the train, & then drive home. Some genius planning there…..

SefiaRounds on April 26, 2014 at 7:47 PM

“They have been cut off by the federal government…they have raised no money from private investors, and no local government has even put up a dime.”

I’ve come to the opinion that this thing was never intended to actually be built. It’s just a way for the politically connected to fleece money from… well, whatever sources government has available to it. It would be fascinating to see where the money has really gone to. If I had to guess, all the ‘consulting’ and ‘studying’ that’s been done is by people who are related to, or heavy monetary supporters of, people in power. The taxpayers are the ones that are screwed by those in power.

I think the same thing about all that land being deprived of water over the Delta Smelt on the west side of the Central Valley. Someday in the future, after all the original land-owners have been screwed out of their land, and it’s all been magically bought up by groups of ‘connected’ people, the water will be turned back on.

trigon on April 26, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Great. 200 mph gets Kalifornia to bankruptcy just that much faster. But, like a plague of locusts, those roaches and rats fleeing a failing state will (and do) take their diseased politics and culture with them, infecting the rest of the country.

vnvet on April 26, 2014 at 7:51 PM

And they want a waiver for all the eco requirements imposed on every other business.

It’s almost like cap and trade is just a money vacuum or something!

PattyJ on April 26, 2014 at 7:53 PM

No reason why they can’t carry both. As I said people with money and brains used to figure these things out. People in government don’t have brains.

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 7:34 PM

yeah there is a reason, its called amtrack.
but they would not want to anyways, many were forced by law to provide pass service as part of land grants, it always lost money. southern pacific let their freight languish to play up their passenger and went bankrupt over it, one of the largest carriers there was.
this is why those smart people dumped it as soon as they could.
I have not seen signs any freight operator wants to do passenger. it ties up their tracks, puts freight into a siding where engineers may time out, amtrack already causes issues on the lines. and I am not sure they legally could now that amtrack is running.
freight makes money and track for freight costs less than high speed rail.

dmacleo on April 26, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Jerry Brown, you’re 4:20ing way too much!

woodhull on April 26, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Californians drive. They don’t walk or take public transportation. They drive. They could probably do something cheaper. Remember buses?

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Taxpayer dollars + agenda-driven “bright idea” boondoggle wannabe = Rathole in search of a time, place and money

Newtie and the Beauty on April 26, 2014 at 8:14 PM

The Left is so deeply enamored of 19th century ideas: railroads, windmills, the ideas of Marx and Engels, eugenics, keeping blacks on the plantation.

Makes you wonder how progressives define progress, doesn’t it?

Dolce Far Niente on April 26, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Amtrack is a money loser. They keep dropping lines and stops. Abandon it. Build something else. I wonder how the Europeans do it.

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Amtrack is a money loser. They keep dropping lines and stops. Abandon it. Build something else. I wonder how the Europeans do it.

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Taxes, and the cost of the tickets are so flipping high you want to faint.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Taxes, and the cost of the tickets are so flipping high you want to faint.

upinak on April 26, 2014 at 8:29 PM

And if you don’t live near a stop you have to drive a long way to get on. I have to drive 5 hours east across the state to my brother’s place. I once checked out Amtrak and I would have had to drive 2 hours north to get to a train stop. In 2 hours I can be halfway to my brother’s.

crankyoldlady on April 26, 2014 at 8:33 PM

As envisioned, California’s $68 billion bullet-train system, the nation’s first, would take passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco at speeds of more than 200 miles an hour.

So deep-blue fanatics can read the Utne Reader in comfort while going from concert to concert at everyone else’s expense. How better to be impressed with their own wonderfulness.

The state legislative analyst’s office estimates that their cap-and-trade program could raise anywhere from $12 billion to $45 billion through 2020 (which seems like kind of a suspiciously huge range for a 6-year period, no?)

That’s not an estimate. That’s the BS you’d expect from someone promoting a Ponzi scheme. Which pretty much sums up the entire state government out there.

And Ponzi schemes crash and burn when the marks decide that they don’t want to “pay to play” any more.

clear ether

eon

eon on April 26, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Q: What’s the most effective way to discover a new endangered species that the general public has never heard of before?

A: Plan a transportation project in a Democrat-controlled state.

Jerry Brown needs to look at what’s been going on in the Democratic People’s Republic of Maryland lately.

Route 200, the ICC, is less than 19 miles long, it’s been in the works since the Reagan years, and it’s STILL NOT DONE. If the Guinness Book had an entry for most litigated highway, as measured by number of lawsuits divided by the number of miles, the ICC would most likely retire the category.

And then there’s the Purple Line, a light rail project designed to connect New Carrollton to Bethesda by way of College Park and Silver Spring. Two years ago, if you had asked the man on the street in Silver Spring what the Hay’s spring amphipod was, he wouldn’t have known. Now, it seems like half the county knows that it’s the endangered shrimp that’s (for now) holding up the whole project.

In an ecosystem like California, there will doubtless be NO shortage of undiscovered endangered species to file suit over, soaking Golden State taxpayers with millions and millions more to enrich the lawyers, before any serious work on this project ever starts–IF it starts.

Archangel Nation on April 26, 2014 at 9:49 PM

What California really needs is a high speed rail between LA and Mexico City.

Kenosha Kid on April 26, 2014 at 10:04 PM

When this project goes belly up and it cost the taxpayers billions and billions of dollars instead of these politician being arrested for gross negligence with taxpayer money. We will be told they tried to do the right thing To make California a cleaner place to live. We now live in a country where politicians get away with absolutely dumb projects that can actually Hurt the taxpayer. I guess you do get what you vote for.

pjmel on April 26, 2014 at 10:28 PM

What California really needs is a high speed rail between LA and Mexico City.

Kenosha Kid on April 26, 2014 at 10:04 PM

.
Construction was started on that a looong time ago, but few people know about it, because it’s a ‘subway’.

listens2glenn on April 26, 2014 at 10:56 PM

In an ecosystem like California, there will doubtless be NO shortage of undiscovered endangered species to file suit over, soaking Golden State taxpayers with millions and millions more to enrich the lawyers, before any serious work on this project ever starts–IF it starts.

Archangel Nation on April 26, 2014 at 9:49 PM

.
Here’s someone, who “has a handle on it.”

listens2glenn on April 26, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Kenosha Kid on April 26, 2014 at 10:04 PM

The problem is that it only goes one way, and Mexico can’t afford to buy anymore trains, and DHS has impounded all the ones in storage in SoCal.

Another Drew on April 27, 2014 at 2:03 AM

I can’t believe that anyone still cares to do business in California.

jbspry on April 27, 2014 at 2:14 AM

Good for CA, if they want a model train, they can pay for it themselves. When the price tag goes from $68 billion to $100 or $200, what are they going to do, raise the cap and trade fees? Heh, i’d like to see them do that.

hurricane567 on April 27, 2014 at 2:33 AM

Do they plan to offer subsidized fares to illegal aliens? They need to think about that, cuz in 20 years, thats all thats gonna be left in CA.

BobMbx on April 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM

I still can’t believe that my fellow Californians voted for the “bullet train” when we all know it will never attract enough passengers to make a profit. Yeah, we want to drive to a little town in central CA so we can leave our cars, ride to LA or SF, rent a car there, get back on the train, & then drive home. Some genius planning there…..

SefiaRounds on April 26, 2014 at 7:47 PM

I live in So. Cal, and years ago used to drive up to San Francisco often to visit family. There is NO WAY we would have taken this “option” if it had been available at the time.

ncinca on April 27, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Boondoggle. As a native Californian that has lived and worked in all corners of the state I can say this train is impractical and unnecessary. I’ll never ride it and know no one who will.

FireBlogger on April 27, 2014 at 2:56 PM