No Infrastructure Investment for Concrete!


This is what you get for your infrastructure investment dollars. Texas A&M;

Making cement creates 5% of the world's greenhouse gases. Putting it into roads promotes consumption of fossil fuels. And where is the infrastructure investment going? States are lining up at the trough to invest in- highways. According to Heidi Przybyla at Bloomberg,

Missouri's plan to spend $750 million in federal money on highways and nothing on mass transit in St. Louis doesn't square with President-elect Barack Obama's vision for a revolutionary re-engineering of the nation's infrastructure. Utah would pour 87 percent of the funds it may receive in a new economic stimulus bill into new road capacity. Arizona would spend $869 million of its $1.2 billion wish list on highways.

Supporters say, with a straight face, that this will be good for the environment because it will reduce congestion. "If you can eliminate the congestion, you can dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions," said Jeff Solsby, a spokesman for the Washington-based American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

fuel-for-cement image

Fuel Types for making Cement San Francisco Sentinel

And how long will it take to overcome the greenhouse gas emissions from all that concrete? 5% of the world's CO2 comes from making cement. You carry a lot more people per ton of cement poured by putting it into railbeds.

From its very start, pulling limestone out of the ground, then heating it at 2,700 degrees to turn it into lime, then mixing it with aggregate (also dug out of the ground) and moving it around in cement mixers, concrete is a greenhouse gas extravaganza, producing a ton of CO2 for every ton of concrete.

Road building uses more of it per person carried than any other form of transportation. The cars that drive on it use more fossil fuels per person than any other form of transportation. We want to stop producing greenhouse gases and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. So why is a dime of federal infrastructure money going to pour concrete into roads?

digging limestone image

Digging up limestone. San Francisco Sentinel

Because the States love roads and have been planning roads for a long time, and Obama wants to get people working quickly.

Przybyla writes:

The Missouri plan reflects the current needs of the state, where 90 percent of travel is by cars on highways and roads, said Sally Oxenhandler, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

"We had to take a look at the needs and strike a balance, and also look at projects that we had ready to go in 180 days," she said.

So a good proportion of the trillion dollars of infrastructure investment is going to go into dumb concrete, gray collar jobs instead of green collar.

In Europe and Southeast Asia, governments are investing tens of billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects that include systems designed for the rapid transport of merchandise. Proponents of a new approach to transportation in the U.S. are pushing for the stimulus package to fund similar projects.

But here? Pour concrete. Build roads. Drive big cars down them. We may have change we can believe in coming to Washington, but In Minnesota and Arizona it is the same old thing. More in Bloomberg and Grist.
Another Quote: David Brooks on Infrastructure Investment : TreeHugger
At Least Some American Infrastructure Investment Doesn't Involve Cars
Time for a Radical Infrastructure Overhaul

No Infrastructure Investment for Concrete!
Making cement creates 5% of the world's greenhouse gases. Putting it into roads promotes consumption of fossil fuels. And where is the infrastructure investment going? States

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