Green Ideas Overheard At ITEXPO West

Greg Galitzine : Green Blog
Greg Galitzine
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Green Ideas Overheard At ITEXPO West

Several ideas/observations overheard at ITEXPO West last week in Los Angeles...

1. Get rid of the ethanol subsidy 

Ethanol production--from grains as opposed to biowaste--is being criticized for generating more pollution than it solves through processing and transportation.

Kind of like LEED buildings being erected in car-oriented office parks, gouged out of what had been environmentally-beneficial fields, wetlands, forests...

2. Go nuclear, like France has done. Get away from coal, heavy oil, natural gas, hydro...

There is some logic here. The big question with nuclear is what to do with the spent fuel. Those costs must be factored into the price.

Then again, compared with bird-killing tailing ponds from tar sands production, blowing up mountaintops and gouging craters for coal, the refining process for oil and natural gas, damming up rivers for hydro...

3. Invest in electric high-speed rail, again like France

Makes sense. Electric rail transportation emits far fewer total emissions than driving and flying and requires much less greenspace. 

Air and road travel have long had free rides--including on the environment--thanks to enormous direct and indirect subsidies that had put private rail passenger transportation out of business. 

The transportation picture, and the environment and energy, not to mention urban development, would have looked much different, had there been a true free market competitive level playing field between modes.

To redress this balance there needs to be heavy government investment--like which was made on the Interstates and in airports that had nearly eliminated passenger and urban rail.

There is a high-speed rail vote going to the California electors this fall. There are also other transit funding measures on or will likely be on the ballot (a future entry in the Green Blog will look at them but this article in the July issue of the transit trade magazine Metro gives a good primer. 

3. Look at shale and other oil sources

There is nothing evil about oil per se from any source, but the final costs from them must include all the direct and indirect environmental expenses incurred.
Anything less is a subsidy...

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