All Aboard: Romance and Profit On The Coal Train

One more tale of romancing the coal. In addition to the one Lloyd posted, and the Abbott Laboratories story, recently written.

"Railroad operator CSX Corp. paid McGlotten & Jarvis $40,000 in the first half of 2007 to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form. The firm lobbied on legislation related to global warming and railroad security issues, according to the form posted online Tuesday by the Senate's public records office."

"In March, CSX said it was the first railroad company to join a federal program to set voluntary targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But the company, which is a major shipper of coal, is also among a number of railroad operators that is spending money to upgrade the nation's coal transportation network since coal accounts for about one-fifth - or $11 billion in 2006 - of the industry's revenue."

"In that regard, the railroad industry has joined mining and utility companies in touting the benefits of coal, which produces about half the nation's electricity. However, coal also produces more carbon dioxide - a contributor to global warming - than other fossil fuels."How can this sort of thing happen you may ask?

Well, one plausible explanation might be that corporations often keep a small office based in Washington DC to "lobby." Such satellite offices have a budget and use it for what they think is the Right Thing.

Per the graphic, there's a good sized cult of elderly hobby railroaders who don the engineer bibs and hat, running model railroad sets. Incredible that there is still such romantic attachment to the transportation past. Will we one day look back on SUV's in the same way?

Coal and romanticism aside, practical rail transit will be back much sooner than the lobbyists and pundits imagine. Railroads will, as in the early 19th Century, short-haul food from county farm to city market. Towns will renew around RR spurs and crossings. Bales of switch grass, wind turbine produced hydrogen, and buffalo meat will go to the coasts from the heartland. Passengers will transect the states and nation in large numbers.

For now, sadly, black gold blinds even the railroad owners to carbon constraints and the sustainable business opportunities that wait around the bend, and through the tunnel.

"Trouble with you is
The trouble with me
Got two good eyes
but we still don't see
Come round the bend
You know it's the end
The fireman screams and
The engine just gleams"

Via:: Forbes Magazine

Lyric credit: Greatful Dead, Casey Jones, Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia

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