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Front Page » February 17, 2009 » Opinion » Guest editorial: Stimulus bill bad on roads
Published 1,989 days ago

Guest editorial: Stimulus bill bad on roads


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By CHAD KISTER
Contributing writer

While the stimulus bill includes many good provisions, such as investments in wind and solar energy, it also contains funding for massive environmental destruction and climate change-causing infrastructure like highways.

We should eliminate the funding for new highways, like the unnecessary Nelsonville, Ohio bypass that is destroying the Wayne National Forest in my backyard. Instead, our country should invest much more in high speed rail and mass transit.

Driving tons of metal around when all we need to move is a 150-pound person is insane from a resource point of view: what a waste of oil that we import from other countries. When we add climate change concerns, we are committing mass murder to future generations, with billions of people predicted to die this century according to top scientists unless we make major changes very fast.

Rather than more highways and decades of continued oil addiction, we can have 200+ mile per hour trains running on solar and wind energy. This will exponentially reduce the consumption of gasoline and diesel that sucks $700 billion from our country's economy annually.

The stimulus bill helps somewhat toward this goal with renewable energy investment, but it also does the opposite by investing in new highways that will continue our fossil fuel addiction for decades to come.

While we need to make sure our bridges do not collapse, nearly all new road and highway construction should cease, and be replaced with passenger rail development: a wondrous way of travel that is tens of times more energy efficient and hundreds of times safer than driving. Looking out on the landscape, trains are luxurious and pleasant.

More importantly, why more people are not heeding the concerns of top scion climate change deeply troubles me.

Too many people are invested in companies that make highways and cars. They just stick their heads in the sand when climate change is mentioned.

For future generations this is just about the only issue that they will care about.

Whether we can keep our climate livable or not is the number one issue affecting our children, and we need to transform all of our priorities. Otherwise, we are just wasting this money on a gas guzzling infrastructure doomed to fail, and devastating our environment in the process.

We can create a much better, more efficient world, in which we can move around at 200 miles per hour while we relax, eat, read the paper or meet people from around the world as we go to and from work: all while getting exponential fuel savings.

We create a world in which we can eliminate all the stress of buying and maintaining cars, getting auto insurance and driving in increasingly extreme weather and congestion.

The money we would save in health care by reducing pollution alone would likely pay for the high speed rail and renewable power infrastructure, not to mention the quality of life improvement.

Editor's note: Chad Kister is the Author of Arctic Quest, Arctic Melting and Against All Odds and producer of the film, Caribou People.

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February 17, 2009
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