Warning, quasi-political commentary ahead...
In case you missed it, the New York Times ran a piece today about Barack Obama's support of the ethanol industry, and briefly contrasts this with John McCain's stance on the issue. Rather than weigh in on the political aspects of this, or the merits and demerits of ethanol which a number of sources have already done (The Daily Green, Triple Pundit), I just want to bring up a related issue which seems to remain in the shadows whenever biofuel policy is brought up in the US: Public Transportation. Whither Public Transportation?
Nowhere in this discussion does anyone raise a hand and ask either candidate whether their energy policies might be augmented with a plan to radically expand public transit in the United States. Transportation policy isn't on Obama's list of campaign issues, or as a subset of his energy policy. Energy policy itself, let alone a public transportation policy is absent from McCain's issue list. It seems to me that a discussion about what is the better biofuel, how much fossil fuel can be displaced by them, who's in whose pocket, is lacking if not linked with a discussion of reducing the base need for these fuels through investment in public transportation and automobile alternatives, as well as changes in urban planning.
"The greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world"
...To take a phrase from James Kunstler. We've written about "uninventing" suburbia, as well as ways in which people can get out of their cars though efforts such as bike sharing, and the pleasures of train travel, but nothing of the sort appears on the US political radar with any frequency or longevity. It's only whether we can change the fuel or increase the efficiency of the current energy/transportation paradigm, never whether there might not be a better paradigm. We mobilized nationally to build the interstate highway system. What can't we mobilize nationally to reinvigorate public transportation? Perhaps I'm asking too much?
Whew, soap box away, back to normal enviro-blogging...
Ethanol, Suburbia and Alternatives
Round and Round We Go: Is Corn-based Ethanol Viable?
How Can We "Uninvent" Suburbia
Montreal Wants Paris Style Bike-Sharing
Taking the Train to New York: The Only Way to Fly
James Howard Kunstler Takes on Stephen Colbert