Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Anti-Rail Crowd on Wrong Side of Energy Issue: Rail Transit Will Use Ever-Increasing Renewable Power

We’re writing without having seen media coverage of a Small Business Hawaii press conference that was held less than two hours ago. The coverage will come in due time. For now, we’re going off the press release distributed by the Small Business Hawaii Foundation on “Honolulu Rail Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis.”

SBH’s Foundation has imported someone from the Midwest to put a conservative (and undoubtedly critical) spin on Honolulu’s planned rail system. At least Wendell Cox is from Illinois, which is closer to Hawaii than New Jersey – home of Kamehameha School’s “transit expert” import.

Here’s what we see as the key paragraph from the Foundation’s press release:

“The Honolulu rail DEIS contains no estimate of the proposed rail line’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The SBH/Demographia (a Cox website) report corrects this oversight and analyzes the future production of electricity, best and worst case scenarios of gas emissions in Honolulu’s proposed rail, and costs per ton of any reduced greenhouse production.”

We have no comment about what is or isn’t in the DEIS; the City presumably will provide a response. What interests us, aside from the awkward construction of that paragraph, is the key phrase “best and worst case scenarios.” Cox undoubtedly will highlight a worst-case scenario, but what about the best?

Zero Emissions Is the Goal!

The best-case scenario for power plants that will generate electricity for Honolulu’s rail project is simply this: They will produce no greenhouse gas emissions! None! Nada!! Zip!!!

That is absolutely the best-case scenario as Hawaii transitions to a green energy industry, and if you don’t believe it, you can look it up on numerous State websites. Just Google “Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.” Here’s a quote from the State’s HCEI site:

“The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative aims to transform Hawaii into a world model for energy independence and sustainability. Our goal is to meet 70% of Hawaii's energy needs with clean energy by 2030.”

That 70% will be a combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy from both old technologies and new – including wind, solar, biomass, wave and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).

There are OTEC advocates right here in Hawaii whose vision of energy independence in Hawaii is a dozen or more 100-megawatt OTEC plants surrounding Oahu that completely eliminate the need to burn carbon fuels to meet the island’s electricity needs. Those needs will include electricity for Honolulu's train. From the Harvard Political Review:

"Were its vast potential harnessed, OTEC could change the face of energy consumption by causing a shift away from fossil fuels. Environmentally, such a transition would greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the rate of global warming.”

That’s just one of hundreds of web-based sources on OTEC, which is just one of the many clean energy technologies Hawaii is now or will be adopting. We’re on a relentless campaign in Hawaii to develop all such technologies, and the goal isn’t going to stop at 70%. The goal embraced by government and non-governmental agencies alike is no fossil fuel use in Hawaii!

It’s one big hairy audacious goal for the state – no doubt about it. Getting there will require finding an economic substitute for fuel that powers aircraft, ships and land vehicles. But that’s the goal, and the prospects for achieving it by mid-century are excellent.

THAT is the best-case scenario for rail transit greenhouse gas emissions: There will be NONE. Anything short of that espoused by Mr. Cox and Small Business Hawaii is unbelievable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems that Panos is announcing a report put together by a consultant (Wendell Cox) who has a reputation of being against mass-transit.

One could suspect that this consultant is crafting a report to support a pre-conceived idea, rather than studying acquired data and coming to a valid conclusion. In essence, he's a hired gun.