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Fareware to Carfree Cities

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  • Fred M. Cain
    Dear Mr. Crawford et al, I am truly sorry if I offended anyone on this lest as that was not my intention. I have been places before where automobiles are kept
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 2, 2005
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      Dear Mr. Crawford et al,

      I am truly sorry if I offended anyone on this lest as that was not
      my intention.

      I have been places before where automobiles are kept to a minimum
      such as Fisher's Island, NY and I found it quite peaceful there. I
      was therefore attracted to the concept of a "car free" city. So I
      joined the group with the "please tell me more" idea.

      So, I guess I will just post a "good-bye" notice to the effect that
      I regard freedom of expression, without censorship of concepts that
      certain people find unable to handle, as being of primary
      importance, and vital to any discussion of any important concept.
      Since this is not a shared value of this forum, I will seek out
      places where disagreement is cause for response with facts and
      opinions, not insults and banishment.

      And, by the way, I am most certainly *NOT* Tom Frost although he and
      I do belong on some other groups together. If your mission in this
      life is to win over "car-free cities" converts, you have failed most
      miserably with me. Too bad because it is an intriguing idea.

      I don't own an automobile myself, however you have failed to show me
      why I should support such an overwhelming change in our current
      system and way of life.

      Best Regards and good luck,
      Fred M. Cain,
      Topeka, Indiana
    • Andrew Dawson
      http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df/df10032005.shtml#Grade Grade crossing madness By Jim RePass President & CEO, NCI It is ironic that the Federal Railroad
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 3 3:57 PM
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        Grade crossing madness

        By Jim RePass
        President & CEO, NCI
        It is ironic that the Federal Railroad Administration should release its
        six-month report (see related story, �FRA says Highway-Rail Grade Crossing
        Fatalities and Train Accidents Show Significant Decline During First Half of
        2005�), touting statistical improvements to grade crossing safety, just two
        days before America�s disgraceful lack of transportation policy planning
        took yet two more lives (see Amtrak Acela story).

        The Administration�s national passenger rail policy, which is to throw
        Amtrak into the hands of the states and walk away from it, is only slightly
        less irresponsible than the on-going failure to address grade crossing
        safety in the only way it can be addressed, which is to make plans --- NOW
        --- to bridge, tunnel, or close them all.

        We know full well that it is impractical to do that in one fell swoop, or
        even over a decade. But we must get the process started, and to do that,
        Congress has to re-set America�s transportation priorities so that spending
        on rail infrastructure � that�s right, freight as well as passenger --- is
        brought to bear on curing the massive highway overspending that has lead to
        gridlock throughout America.

        There are about a quarter of a million grade crossings in America. Only
        60,000 have any protection at all other than a pair of crossbucks. With the
        180,000 remaining --- you and your family are on their own! This state of
        affairs has been allowed to continue for decades because the rail
        constituency is poverty-stricken, weak, and fragmented. Even the best run
        freight railroad, BNSF, barely recovers its cost of capital in most years
        --- and that is with a pretty lean capital spending plan to begin with.

        The reason, for those new to this subject, is that Federal and state laws
        have been carefully written to favor highway spending, and to actively
        discourage expenditures on intercity rail or transit. For example, 30 of the
        50 states have constitutional amendments, passed in the 1930�s and 1940�s
        through the efforts of the Highway Lobby, that prohibit the spending of any
        state gas tax money on anything but highways --- a completely indefensible
        act that has made sure even Governors who want to use state gas taxes as
        matching funds to spring Federal money for rail can�t do even that.

        In Washington, Federal gas tax dollars go into a �Highway Trust Fund,�
        another anachronism that force feeds the nation a diet of asphalt and
        concrete when what it needs is a transportation system. We need to change
        the �Highway� fund to a �Transportation Trust Fund�, and reconfigure
        Congressional committees such as the House Transportation & Infrastructure
        Committee so that it is divided by region instead of by type of
        transportation modes. Only then can we can begin regional, systems-based
        transportation planning.

        All of those things are hard to accomplish, but so was going to the moon ---
        or building the transcontinental railroad. But for starters, Congress could
        begin NOW to require the US Department of Transportation to come up with a
        plan to close, tunnel, or bridge every at-grade highway crossing, and then
        fund that plan. No, it wouldn�t require immediately spending 240,000 x $1
        million (the average cost assumed to close, tunnel, or bridge each
        crossing). But we can begin by identifying all the grade crossings that
        intersect passenger train routes or Class I freight railroad, and then
        finding a way to fix those --- and then categorize the rest, and make plans
        to deal with them.

        It seems like a tall order, and it is. But the situation should never have
        been allowed to deteriorate to this level: that each year, 400+ people die,
        and another 1200+ are injured, because they don�t see the train, don�t obey
        the sign, or go around the gates. As I have said before, no one in their
        right mind would propose that a loaded gasoline tanker truck be allowed to
        cut across the runway when a 747 is taking off --- and yet, 240,000 times a
        day in America, that�s essentially what we allow. When it comes to rail
        grade crossings: bridge it, tunnel it, or close it. But don�t keep ignoring
        the problem, because one day the accident will be with an ammonia or
        chlorine gas tanker in a populated area, and then, thousands will die. When
        it does, no one should say it was a surprise, because it won�t be, at least
        to those who have thought seriously about it.
      • Andrew Dawson
        http://finance.sympatico.msn.ca/content/jubak/P38259.asp Why OPEC won t turn off the oil Posted 2/7/2006 By Jim Jubak President Bush had barely finished
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 12, 2006
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          Why OPEC won't turn off the oil
          Posted 2/7/2006

          By Jim Jubak

          President Bush had barely finished explaining how his plan to spend less
          than a billion in new money would end U.S. addiction to Middle Eastern oil
          before Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC fired back.

          If the United States reduced its dependence on Middle Eastern oil, the
          Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would be forced, with deep
          sorrow certainly, to abandon plans to invest billions in developing new
          supplies of oil.

          President Bush's plan to reduce U.S. demand for Middle Eastern oil would
          result, producers warned, in a global crisis in oil supply.

          Yeah, right. As lines in the sand go, this one certainly sounds dramatic,
          but it's empty posturing. In fact, as full of too-little-too-late promises
          as President Bush's Jan. 31 State of the Union address was (see my Feb. 3
          column, "The state of coal stocks is strong"), I'd give the nod to OPEC's
          performance over the president's for creativity and sheer chutzpah. As empty
          threats go, this is a doozy.

          OPEC's grand experiment
          As addicted as the United States may be to Middle Eastern oil, the oil
          producers, especially Saudi Arabia, are even more addicted to continued U.S.
          oil consumption. The Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Nigerians and the rest of
          OPEC can't afford to stop investing in new production any more than the U.S.
          can afford to go cold turkey on Middle Eastern oil.

          Look at the world from the perspective of the Saudis and the other OPEC oil

          To them, 2005 -- the year of $60-to-$70-a-barrel oil -- was a huge and
          successful experiment. For years, oil producers had kept their target price
          for oil relatively low: The official OPEC price band for crude oil was $22
          to $28 at the time of the organization's Dec. 12 meeting. OPEC has kept the
          target so low because it worried that high oil prices would cut global
          demand for oil. OPEC has also worried that high oil prices would spur the
          development of alternative energy resources, such as Canada's oil sands, and
          alternative energy technologies such as nuclear and solar.

          So OPEC watched with some concern as war in Iraq, hurricanes in the Gulf of
          Mexico, unrest in Nigeria and turmoil in Russia drove the price above $70 a
          barrel. And OPEC breathed a sigh of relief when prices above $60 a barrel
          didn't stop global economic growth in its tracks, didn't lead to crash
          programs of energy conservation and didn't force OPEC's customers to develop
          alternative fuel sources.

          Now that the world has proven quite able to live with $60 to $70 a barrel
          oil, OPEC is quite happy to go along. The official target band may not move
          for some time, even though the more aggressive OPEC members, such as Iran
          and Venezuela, have called for official production cuts and higher official
          price targets. So far, OPEC isn't inclined to go on record in favor of
          higher prices. The organization will be quite happy to blame the price
          increase on market forces, Chinese demand and Western speculators for as
          long as possible. But the target price is now clearly above $50 a barrel, no
          matter what OPEC says officially.

          Power rankings
          Despite much higher oil prices, not all is well in OPEC's world. Like the
          rest of the world, OPEC has a supply-demand problem. For oil-consuming
          nations, that problem expresses itself as a huge increase in the cost of
          oil. For OPEC, and particularly for the Saudis, the problem is the potential
          for a loss of control over the global oil markets.

          Top World Oil Producers

          1) Saudi Arabia

          2) Russia

          3) United States

          4) Iran

          5) Mexico

          6) China

          7) Norway

          8) Canada

          9) Venezuela

          10) United Arab Emirates

          11) Kuwait

          12) Nigeria

          13) United Kingdom

          13) Iraq (tied with U.K.)

          Source: Energy Information Administration. Latest data from 2004. OPEC
          members in italics.

          Right now, OPEC still calls the tune in the global oil market -- and not
          just because it's the source of 40% of the world's oil, although that
          certainly doesn't hurt.

          And Saudi Arabia isn't the most powerful country in OPEC just because it
          produces more oil than anyone else in the world, although that certainly
          isn't a bad foundation for power, either. The Saudis, at 10.4 million
          barrels a day at the end of 2004, aren't that far ahead of No. 2, Russia, at
          9.3 billion, or No. 3, the United States, at 8.7 million.

          Power in today's oil market involves two questions:

          Is your production rising or falling in the long run? Right now, non-OPEC
          production is falling in comparison to OPEC production. That puts OPEC in
          the driver's seat. (At least until Canada's oil sands projects start full

          In the shorter run, do you have any excess production capacity that can add
          oil to the global markets at crunch time? When global supply is running just
          barely ahead of demand, as it is at the moment, countries with excess
          production capacity, the marginal producers, have tremendous market power
          and the ability to set prices.
          Right now there's really only one country in the world with any surplus
          production capacity. That's Saudi Arabia. And that puts the Saudis in a
          position to defeat Venezuela's proposals on price and to overrule Iran on

          But this power -- for Saudi Arabia and for OPEC -- isn't guaranteed for the
          long term. It's based on the ability of the countries in the organization as
          a whole to increase production to meet demand, so that oil consumers don't
          have a reason to get more aggressive about finding other sources of energy.
          And for the Saudis, in particular, it's based on their ability to increase
          production so that the country remains the global source of excess
          production capacity.

          Meeting those goals won't be easy. And it will require massive investment in
          the region's oil reserves.

          Drilling for the dregs
          Even if you don't believe in peak oil -- the theory that global oil
          production either has peaked or will soon peak -- the problems facing the
          global oil industry, OPEC and Saudi Arabia are immense. The current
          generation of peak-oil theorists, building on the work of the late M. King
          Hubbert, predicts that world oil production will decline -- slowly at first
          and then more quickly -- as the rate at which new oil is discovered falls
          behind the depletion of current proven reserves.

          Buttressing the theory are signs that some of the biggest proven reserves
          are indeed showing their age. For example, the United Kingdom, which has
          been a net exporter of energy for the last two decades thanks to the huge
          oil and gas deposits discovered in the North Sea about 35 years ago, became
          a net importer of natural gas in 2005. Oil analysts estimate that the United
          Kingdom has pumped between 50% and 75% of the available oil and gas in its
          North Sea fields. From its peak at the end of the 1990s, United Kingdom oil
          production has fallen by about 30%.

          I think it's too early to tell if the is right -- and to predict when the
          peak might come. Another part of the theory, however, seems to me undeniably
          accurate. Peak Oil theories predict that production from a field will peak
          and start to fall long before all the oil is extracted, since the more
          easily pumped oil deposits are extracted first. And that extracting the
          remaining oil will get increasingly more difficult and more expensive.

          Want proof? Just ask Royal Dutch Shell (US:RDS.A, news). The company just
          reported disappointing fourth-quarter results that showed the company
          continuing its recent trend of replacing just 70% to 80% of the oil it pumps
          each year through new discoveries. The company has vowed to get replacement
          figures up to 100% by 2008, but that's going to take a good bit of money.
          Spending on exploration and development will climb to $19 billion in 2006.
          "The theory of peak oil," CEO Jeroen van der Veer, told investors and
          analysts, "that oil production has peaked, is correct if you look at easy
          oil close to markets, like West Texas and the North Sea. But think about
          deep-water drilling, think about the Arctic."

          I do think about deep-water drilling and Shell's projects on Russia's
          Sakhalin Island, and I see big increases in the cost of finding and
          producing oil.

          The Saudis and the rest of OPEC aren't exempt from this process. About 50%
          of Saudi Arabia's current reserves are locked up in just eight fields,
          including the giant Ghawar field -- the world's largest with remaining
          reserves, by official Saudi oil industry count, of 70 billion barrels.
          Ghawar, however, is quite old and while reserves remain huge, production
          rates are declining as it gets harder and harder to extract the oil. The
          Saudi state oil company Aramco says that production from Ghawar and other
          old fields is falling by 800,000 barrels a day. (Outside critics say the
          depletion rate is much higher.)

          But whatever the correct figure, the Saudis clearly need to spend big bucks
          just to maintain current production. So in March 2005, for example, the
          Saudis announced contracts to foreign firms to develop new fields that would
          start production between 2006 and 2009 and that would add 2.7 million to 3.1
          million barrels a day to production. The cost: $8 billion.

          Keys to the kingdom
          The Saudis -- and other OPEC members -- have the cash to spend much more
          than $8 billion to find and develop new fields and to improve the technology
          at existing fields in order to retrieve a higher percentage of the oil in
          proven reserves. Spending those billions would keep OPEC and the Saudis in
          control of global oil markets.

          Not spending those billions would gradually move OPEC and Saudi Arabia out
          of their current position of control. Losing control of the global oil
          markets isn't exactly an option that the ruling regimes in these countries
          can face with equanimity. After all, it's only oil revenue that keeps the
          ruling families in power in much of this region and that funds the regimes
          in Nigeria, Iran and Venezuela.

          You judge exactly how likely it is that the folks who rule the OPEC
          countries will risk their own fortunes and lives by cutting investment in
          their oil resources.

          Even if it would give them the satisfaction of showing President Bush who's
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