Capdiamont\’s Weblog

NA: Killing rail service to 15 cities tyranny, not courage
Friday 1 Feb 2008, 12:46
Filed under: NCRA, Railroad

Seems as though Mike Arnold is supported by the car, and oil companies in his quest to get rid of the NCRA and SMART. How’s that for NCJ’s environmental groups backing the lawsuit against the NCRA. But of course with Hanks resourcefulnesses, he should of known that. Thus proving he wants anything to kill the railroad.

By Lionel Gambill
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 2:01 PM PST

Novato’s attempt to kill rail service in four counties and 15 cities is not courageous, as Mike Arnold claims. No city has a right to deny other cities their right to choose. City Manager Dan Keen has made it clear that killing the railroad is the objective: “I think we have serious concerns about the whole resumption of freight.” “The city sees no benefit that NCRA’s freight offers to Novato.” ”The city is asking the court to invalidate NCRA’s contracts with companies involved in upgrading tracks to accommodate the trains.”

Why doesn’t Novato admit it wants to kill the railroad?

Arnold says the North Coast Railroad Authority’s plans “are backed by powerful interests in Sacramento.” What interests? NCRA is a representative agency, its members appointed by Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt County Supervisors.

Powerful interests? When Mike and his cohorts called in outside help during the 2006 Measure R campaign, they brought in Reason Foundation and Pacific Research Institute. Who are they? Reason Foundation’s donor list includes General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Daimler Chrysler Corp., Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corporation, Shell Oil, BP Amoco, American Petroleum Institute, Western States Petroleum, Dow Chemical, Union Carbide — and in past years, Enron.

Pacific Research donors include several of the above, as well as Pfizer, PhRMA, and the Charles Koch Foundation, which has used its billions in gas and oil profits to bankroll such far-right think tanks as Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute. PRI chief Sally Pipes speaks and writes against universal health care. Global warming? Reason Foundation says, “What we can say is that climate change has been a natural phenomena throughout the course of time.”

But global warming should be everyone’s concern, especially here in Marin where transportation accounts for 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. We have been left totally dependent on cars and trucks, all the more reason we need ecologically sustainable alternatives, and that means rail.

Every gallon of motor fuel consumed combines with oxygen to produce 19 pounds of carbon dioxide. Energy efficiency is therefore the key to reducing global warming. A freight train can haul one ton of cargo up to 466 miles on one gallon of fuel versus 105 miles for a big truck. A big truck is twice as loud as a freight train. Big trucks are involved in three times more fatalities per billion ton-miles than freight trains.

NCRA has offered to use only diesels meeting Tier 3 emission standards, the cleanest available today. In the 1930s, 20 passenger trains a day served Novato, plus many freight trains. The freights were all accommodated in daytime hours. A mid-day 100-car freight can roll through in 10 minutes, as opposed to the same cargo on 400 big trucks roaring and snorting at all hours of the day and night, as they do today.

“Environmentalists” up north have not produced one iota of evidence that trains have caused any damage to the Eel River. I rode through that canyon on a train in 1985 and saw thriving wildlife on all sides. And freight isn’t going to be trans-shipped at Port Sonoma because car floats are not cost-effective and were long ago abandoned by railroads.

Only the highway lobby benefits from Novato’s lawsuit. This is just one more chapter in their campaign to prevent trains from competing with cars and trucks. If you doubt that, I’ll gladly show anyone the documentary “Taken for a Ride,” showing how General Motors and its cohorts shut down rail lines so road vehicles could monopolize transportation.

Novato needs to abandon its bad-neighbor policy.

Novatan Lionel Gambill is a past president of Friends of the Coast and member of the OCS Environmental Coalition, which blocked efforts in the 1980s to drill for oil off the northern California coast.

The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of

Bob Cleek wrote on Jan 30, 2008 5:14 PM:
” Way to go, Mr. Gambill! Despite Mr. Arnold’s “accusing” me of being a “long time freight rail supporter,” my piece on the subject was the first public comment I’d ever made on the subject. What I know about “freight rail” is pretty much limited to what I learned from the electric train Santa brought me many years ago.

As seems to be his custom, Mr. Arnold never hesitates to play fast and loose with the truth. I wonder if he and his ilk are also responsible for the anti-SMART propaganda that public transit will increase crime by bringing “those people” into Marin. No kidding, I’ve heard that fear voiced by many welll-intentioned citizens whenever the subject comes up. Scare tactics are reprehensible. Why am I not surprised to learn who fills “Marin Citizens for Effective Transportation’s” war chest. THAT ought to be in the headlines!

As for our city council, well, “courageous” hardly applies. I was circumspect when I called them “shortsighted.” I strongly suspect “gutless” is the more appropriate adjective. As is often said, a politician only cares about the next election. Did our elected city leaders cave in to the radical environmentalists’ threats of an “F” on their “environmental report cards” next election, instead of acting in the best interests of those who elected them? Inquiring minds want to know.

Not just Novato, but all of the North Coast owe Mr. Gambill for “outing” Mike Arnold as a shill for the oil and trucking interests. “



“No city has a right to deny other cities their right to choose?”

I’m sorry. BBBEEEEEP. Cities don’t have rights. People have rights. Cities have laws.

Comment by humboldturtle

The only problem with Lionel’s piece is that it is completely made up. Lionel claims opponents of Measure R called in the Reason Foundation for help. (Is he referring to a lunch speaker sponsored by MUTA?…that’s hardly a campaign.)

Why do rail backers continue to lie? Is it to confuse who’s backing the train?

The public record (reported accurately in the media) shows that Measure R proponents spent over $400,000 on the campaign and lost. The campaign was largely financed by pro-development interests in Sonoma County, including NCRA backers. This includes engineering and consulting firms being paid large sums by SMART.

Meanwhile, Measure R opponents raised a little over $35,000. The largest gifts were from an elderly citizen in San Rafael and Marin Audubon Society.

The simple truth: the more people hear and read about the rail boondoggle, the more they realize that powerful interests are trying to sell them a bridge to nowhere. SMART won’t do what proponents claim. And the freight proposal requires corporate welfare of the worst kind.

Comment by Tired of the bull

Part of the problem is we don’t know what Mike Arnold is for. Keep waiting for the perfect solution. In the mean time the effects of global warming will continue to happen, if you do believe in that. It can be said most environmentalist do. Yet Marin with all it’s eco groveyness, sucks when it comes to using mass transit. Keep studying the problem, that will make it go away won’t it?

SMART didn’t loose by much.

Who is MUTA?

Comment by capdiamont

For reference, Mike Arnold is a PhD economist and co-chair of MCET with Joy Dahlgren, a PhD transportation planner. The organization stands for wise use of scarce taxpayer dollars to address growing congestion.

SMART has been and always will be a boondoggle. It’s a lot of money for very little.

In the 101 corridor in Sonoma and Marin, we already have a publicly subsidized bus service which carries (along with ferries) 30,000 passengers a day. SMART is projected to only carry about 5,000 riders a day, many of whom will come from buses, not cars. And their own study shows that rail will only take 240 Sonoma residents on 7 morning trains to Marin County. (There are about 25,000 Sonoma residents working in Marin.) So, it’s not going to have any effect on traffic. Proponents claims to the contrary is just PR.

The two year out-of-date number to start up rail was $400 million. That would buy a lot of bus services (including hybrid buses like the ones operated by MUNI).

If you care about global warming, which the MCET does, it is far better to lever dollars into improving Golden Gate transit services.

SMART is the definition of a boondoggle. It won’t achieve what proponents claim. It’s not even fully funded, so who knows how many trains will operate, or where they’ll run.

I don’t understand why people support rail without looking at the facts.

Comment by Tired of the bull

Tired of the Bull is Mike Arnold.

Comment by paul

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