A recent report by the libertarian Cato Institute, Does Rail Transit Save Energy or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?, claims that public transit service improvements are ineffective at conserving energy and reducing pollution emissions. But this conclusion is based on faulty analysis.
Last week I attended the NREL Energy Analysis Forum, where leading North American energy analysts discussed current thinking concerning greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies, much of which involves emission cap and trade programs (as summarized in the report by Resources for the Future, "Key Congressional Climate Change Legislation Compared"). Similarly, a recent report, "Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much At What Cost" evaluates emission reduction strategies according to their cost effectiveness.
I couldn’t wait to use the new word, ginormous, which Merriam-Webster recently added to the Collegiate Dictionary. My spell checker has been trained and now I can get about the business of saving ginormous amounts of energy. Recent bouts of ecoterrorism in the form of Hummer vandalism in Washington D.C. and the growing media attention to the environmental hypocrisy of the travel and housing habits of card-carrying carbon footprint club members (take a gander at the 10,000 sq. ft. home of Al Gore or the 28,200 sq.
I find it intriguing when I hear folks talk about how high energy prices will cause a tipping point and everyone will rush back into the city in order to afford to commute to work. If, or as, higher costs for energy begin to play a greater role in location choice it is as likely that they will force even more employers to move to the suburbs. In many urban areas we may be well past the point where fuel price pressures to minimize travel would result in land use changes that move population back to town.