TOPIC: Infrastructure and Mass Transit

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant: putting safety . . . third? fourth? last?

Inspectors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found a laundry-list of safety problems at Pacific Gas & Electric’s controversial Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, including several seemingly serious issues, according to a story by John Upton in The Bay Citizen.

According to the inspection and evaluation, ordered after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan, Diablo Canyon’s fire station is seismically unsound, parked cars block access to critical emergency control valves, a new security fence blocks access to an emergency coolant pool, and plant operators skipped required training exercises. Despite the findings, the NRC declared the plant safe, along with all 103 other nuclear plants recently inspected. (more…)

Plain language about managers at California’s high-speed rail system

More uncertainty is emerging about California’s planned $43 billion bullet train system, after a state report recommended a serious shakeup in the management and spending on the joint federal and state project.

As Dan Weikel of the Los Angeles Times reports, California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released a 28-page report raising serious doubts about both the decisions being made and the decision-makers themselves. The report urges that management of the entire project be stripped from its appointed board — the California High Speed Rail Authority — and turned over to the state Department of Transportation, more commonly known as Caltrans. (more…)

Will high-speed rail in California change direction?

Planners promoting California’s high speed rail system are apparently on the hunt for some serious cost savings.

Two recent stories about the ambitious plan to link Los Angeles with San Francisco via 220-mile per hour trains suggest the project may be facing serious financial questions — just as the naysayers have crowed all along. (more…)

For California water supply, $150 million spent to not solve the problem

California salmon run

Four years and $150 million into a major study of plans to re-engineer elements of California’s main source of water, a National Science Foundation review found the multi-billion-dollar proposal confused, poorly defined and inadequately researched.  That’s the gist of a piece by Gosia Wozniacka of The Associated Press picked up by the Riverside Press Enterprise.

Power brokers managing California’s fresh water supplies have long sought more access to the state’s two major rivers — the Sacramento and the San Joaquin. But taking too much water from the rivers creates all sorts of problems: (more…)

At California utility, $35 million to leave his troubles behind him

San Bruno, CA – Sept. 2010

Federal prosecutors are apparently poring over documents related to last September’s natural gas transmission line explosion, laying the groundwork for possible criminal prosecution of Pacific Gas & Electric Co., according to John Upton of the Bay Citizen and Garance Burke of AP. Officially, however, the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco is only ‘looking into’ the events that led to the 2010 explosion that killed eight and leveled 38 homes in a San Bruno subdivision. (more…)

Water, water not everywhere (especially not in the Southwest)

As trapped carbon dioxide raises temperatures around the world, water will become even more scarce in the already arid southwest, according to a report released yesterday by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, together with the Army Corps of Engineers.

While a story by Bettina Boxall in the Los Angeles Times says California as a whole will end the century receiving about as much water as it does today, though precipitation will be distributed differently. (more…)

Walker: Selective Fiscal Ranger

Scott Walker

Before Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker blasted public employee unions, he made a name for himself by rejecting stimulus money for high-speed rail. It may come as a surprise then that Walker wants to increase transportation spending in the state of Wisconsin, given his purported distaste for federal transportation money and the dire budget warnings that accompanied the public employee bill. But Walker’s state budget shows that, like many leading Republicans, the governor isn’t against big, expensive government.  It’s more that he’s against certain government programs.

And Walker is especially not a fan of public transit. (more…)

No easy way out on water issues in California

After years of admonishment about wasting water, residents of perennially dry California are watching billions of gallons of the life giving liquid roll out to sea as a prodigious rainy season draws to a close.

With irrigation districts, water districts and enviros engaged in battles spreading out across the decades, Matt Weiser 0f the Sacramento Bee wades into the battle with a primer on efforts to boost water supplies in California and the substantial hurdles these projects must clear. (more…)

High speed rail funding leaves one coast for the other

A major windfall in federal funding offered to Florida for a new high speed rail effort, just might end up in America’s other sand-and-sun tourist destination — California.

Arguing that local matching funds and future operating and maintenance costs would be an albatross around Floridians’ necks, Florida’s Republican leadership recently rejected the $2.43 billion Washington offered for that state’s long planned fast train project. Now, according to Rich Connell of the Los Angeles Times, the race is on to get that money and California is hoping for a healthy slice, if not the whole pie. (more…)

Will California reach down deeper for renewable energy sources?

Tidal Farm

Less than five months after California voters strongly rejected a Republican effort to neuter the state’s commitment to renewable energy, the California legislature doubled down yesterday, advancing a bill to the governor’s desk requiring a sharp increase in the use of renewable energy. (more…)