I recently blogged about the lower gasoline sales and lower federal revenue leading to a nearly broke Highway Trust Fund. The US government now finds that Trust Fund worthy of a bail-out, paltry next to the debts of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, tiny compared to the fed guarantees behind the Bear Stearns buy-out, but noble, don't you think? Keep those tax dollars flowing, says Congress. It is estimated there are 300,000 construction jobs involved in the current highway projects dependent on federal money. Faced with that gloomy political news, the White House has decided to sign the bill even though it was championed by the dread Democrats. Let those dollars flow, say all in Washington. We'll just borrow more from China and Japan.
Will this unsettling revelation: that federal money for highways is NOT always there by some unseen law of nature, will this lead any state or local governments to look more seriously at green tech? At electric mass transit systems?
Though the U.S. spends huge amounts of public money to maintain roads and thus indirectly subsidize the oil and auto industry, there's growing interest in mass transit. That's going to be good news for green tech firms. Here's some recent press fuss over mass transit: Detroit, that's lived off the auto industry for over a century. Nashville Salt Lake City where road lust led to rail expansion. Los Angeles, once the most auto-centric place on earth (outside Detroit)
The future of mass transit is never easy in America. Out in Montana high fuel prices are actually leading to fewer bus runs in some places. And ultimately mass transit works best where population is concentrated, if gasoline prices continue to rise the subrbs that are thirty miles from job locations will become less and less economically viable, or retire to become retirement centers for those who don't have to commute daily. Our American penchant for paving huge swaths of farmland for ever bigger houses has done little for our chances to conserve on energy needed to move people and goods around. But planning and zoning are part of that package of evil government controls so many parts of America have come to see as the enemy.